While the business must look orderly, it is not sufficient; the business must also act orderly. It must do things in a predictable, uniform way.
I went to a barber, who, in our first meeting, gave me one of the best haircuts I ever had. He was a master with the scissors and used them exclusively, never resorting to electric sheers as so many others do. Before cutting my hair, he insisted on washing it, explaining that the washing made cutting easier. During the haircut, one of his assistants kept my cup of coffee fresh. In all, the experience was delightful, so I made an appointment to return.
When I returned, however, everything had changed. Instead of using the y, he used the shears about 50 percent of the time. He not only didn’t wash my hair but he never even mentioned it. The assistant did bring me a cup of but only once, never to return. Nonetheless, the haircut was again excellent.,
Several weeks later, I returned for a third appointment. This time, the barber did wash my hair, but after cutting it, preliminary to a final trim. This time he again used the scissors exclusively, but, unlike the first two times, no coffee was served, although he did ask if I would like a glass of wine. At first I thought it might be the assistants day off, but she soon appeared, busily working with the inventory near the front of the shop.
As I left, something in me decided not to go back. It certainly wasn‘t the haircut–he did an excellent job. It wasn‘t the barber. He was pleasant, affable, seemed to know his business. It was something more essential than that.
There was absolutely no consistency to the experience.
The expectations created at the first meeting were violated at each subsequent visit. I wasn‘t sure what to expect. And something in me wanted to be sure. I wanted an experience I could repeat by making the choice to return.
The unpredictability said nothing about the barber, other than he was constantly– and arbitrarily–changing my experience for me. He was in control of his experience, not I. And he demonstrated little sensitivity to the impact of his behavior on me. He was running the business for him, not me. And by doing so, he was depriving me of the experience of making a decision to patronize his business for my own reasons, whatever they might have been.
It didn‘t matter what I wanted.
It didn‘t matter that I enjoyed the sound of the scissors and somehow equated them with a professional haircut.
It didn‘t matter that I enjoyed being waited on by his assistant.
It didn‘t matter that I enjoyed the experience of having my hair washed before he set to work and that I actually believed it would improve the quality of the haircut.
I would have been embarrassed to ask for these things, let alone to give my reasons for wanting them. They were all so totally emotional, so illogical. How could I have explained them or justified them, without appearing to be a boob?
What the barber did was to give me a delightful experience and then take it away.
What you do in your business is not nearly as important as doing what you do the same way, each and every time.
-Anonymous, January 25th, 2019