Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~Kahlil Gibran
I live in a big city. London, a very big city! The recent population of Greater London is 7.6 million people. Like almost every male in business today I occasionally need to get my hair cut. Not a highly intellectual or sporty event, but a necessary part of my life routine.
Now my wife is the one who regularly reminds me that I need a haircut. And as usual, she is right because I tend to put it off for a couple of reasons. One, I’m naturally lazy and it means a break in my routine, especially on a precious weekend when I would rather be doing other things. But the second reason I tend to put off a trip to the barber shop is the incredible variability in cost, quality and the “customer experience”.
Just because a person has a barber’s license doesn’t automatically mean they deliver high quality. Did they finish at the top of their class or barely pass? The license doesn’t say. (By the way, that’s also true for doctors!) So there really is no way of actually determining quality until the purchase (something is wrong with this picture).
The cost of a haircut is pretty easy to determine and tends to vary with the affluence of the neighborhood. Since London has many little boroughs, within 2 stops on the London Underground I can find a simple haircut (no blow drying, no coloring, no frills) between £10 and £100. In this case cost variance tends to match the wealth of the neighborhood. No surprise there.
But the quality of the haircut is an entirely different matter. Is a £100 haircut 10 times better than a £10 one? I think not.
Let me tell you why I go to the £10 barber shop (Michael’s barber shop for men). I go because I enjoy the experience! The place I frequent about every 4 weeks is fun. There are 4 barbers, all Lebanese, their shop is open 6 days a week, and it is always full. These guys have fun. They talk politics, religion, current events, travel experiences, anything and everything with their customers and everyone is engaged and having a good time. I also enjoy the experience because no one is trying to impress (unlike a get together of business executives). It’s purely social and always uplifting. Mutual laughter is the common denominator.
Could it be that a large percentage of business customers value the experience as much (or more) than quality or cost? They all factor into the decision to shop at one store and not another, but I suspect that quality of the experience ranks higher than most retailers imagine. That might be one of the reasons they spend so little on staff training, in the belief that fixtures, variety, price and sales are what pull in the shoppers.
I like to think the “shopping experience” is a big factor in the where-to-shop (or get your hair cut) decision. For those of us who are addicted to fishing as a hobby, the experience I have at a flyfishing shop is a huge factor in the decision of where I spend my money. Product knowledge is very important, but is it a fun place to be? Do the guys engage easily with customers and each other. I know the customer experience is also critical for golfers as well. Quality of the “shopping experience” may just be one of the most overlooked principles in business sustainability.
And here’s another insight I’ve come upon. Most business owners have no clue as to the “customer experience” with their company!
Tight Lines . . .
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