A Cut Above

I have an irrational fear of getting my hair cut.

I will prolong the experience as much is feasibly possible, cursing the thickness of my hair and wondering when the heredity genes will kick in.  I mentally prepare myself for the experience, look for ways to avoid, and then finally commit to the ‘deed’.  I’m not alone – we have a word … tonsurephobia – derived from the Greek word Tonsure meaning to cut and phobos – the deep dread or aversion.

It’s fine as I’ve analysed myself and what I don’t like about it.  From the lack of control, having to look at myself in the mirror, the chance of things going wrong, the banal small talk, the fake gratitude at the end – there’s a lot I have to deal with.

I’ve tried coping mechanisms.  Drinks beforehand for courage didn’t help and I don’t recommend closing your eyes during the whole experience either.  And while it’s not related to the specific barber / hairdresser, you can only imagine my reaction when my barber was not only wearing a beanie (what are you trying to hide under there) but casually reading ‘The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck’.

But how does this story relate to the work we do at The Interpreters and the brands that we work with.  As I mentally wrote this blog in my head as a new distraction method for my latest haircut, I wondered how the customer experience could be improved to help with this ‘phobia’.

If I can pre order my coffee via an App and pick up when I walk past my coffee store, could I not pre-order my haircut and preferences – and at the same time, note that I’m not up for small talk.  It’s the same for Uber – can I let them know I’m not a talker so don’t let my unwillingness for chatter to impact my intended 5 star rating.

This is all about tailoring the ideal customer experience – for me. Personalisation continues to be a much talked about but still not widely executed marketing strategy when it comes to customer experience and journey mapping.  And while the consumer demands will continue to be personal to them, there’s a growing movement in a willingness to pay for such personalisation. If I can pay more for a better experience in premium economy or business during my travel experiences, can I pay more for a better experience within the hairdressing experience?

The Share a Coke campaign is always talked about as the benchmark of personalised marketing but there’s a couple of others which show how personalisation can enhance the customer experience

In the UK, EasyJet used its customer data for good when celebrating the 20th anniversary and created personalised emails to customers reminding them of their first EasyJet experience, where they have travelled in the past and recommendations based on their experiences.  Atom Bank allows customers to create their own bank and design interface, handing over the branding rights to the customer to create Paul’s Bank

So what am I asking for – a silent mirrorless barber shop where I’m rewarded for not saying how the haircut is perfect at the end – not at all, although that would be nice.  I’m wondering whether my preferences for personalised experiences and relationships with brands is starting to creep into other customer experiences I have. If I’m looking for more control in the relationship I have with a hairdresser, how do I, as owner of that relationship, start to change the experience.


By Paul Dixon

Leave a Reply