Updated: May 12, 2022
There are two truths that I harp about constantly. The first is that service and experience are not the same thing. The other is that ‘business loyalty’ is not the same as ‘identity loyalty.’
There is a story that I tell about The Two Barbers – in fact, Tom turned it into a half-day workshop. It too is about the difference between service and experience, and how even great service isn’t enough and what you’re actually asking your customers to buy into.
The story in a few points is this:
I was a ‘business loyal’ client to my barber for over a decade, but one day I happened to hear a story about a barbershop that was literally 100 feet away. I went in, they blew me away and I have been a loyal client of the new place for what must be close to ten years now. Not only that, I pay more than double what I was perfectly happy to pay the last guy.
When you rely on service, you are vulnerable to what I refer to as “what the hell” or “why not” moments. When an interruption happens in your client’s life, it may cause them to try another option. Billions of dollars are spent by businesses every year to do anything they can to stop this from happening.
Romeo (no kidding, that was my first barber’s name) delivered the best service. He was the easiest, opened earliest, closed latest and of course was the cheapest. I hate to admit it to myself but looking back I was using him for convenience.
Sammy, my new guy, he is in a whole other business. He stages an experience and has created a place were you want to hang out. He has figured out a way to help you have a little ownership there. He has a coffee maker that I think might have been in the staff room in heaven and he isn’t afraid to use it.
When I visit, I feel hipper. I feel younger. I feel youthful and connected, which is saying something when you’re watching yourself get a comb over in the mirror.
Sammy is asking me to buy into something. Sammy makes the visit all about me and about building me up while combing me over. There is community there now. I recognize some other people, and some conversations and connections have happened. It’s like a club more than it is a barbershop, and even now saying ‘barbershop’ feels like I’m paying Sammy a disservice.
I’ve bought in. Sammy is insulated from a future ‘what the hell’ moment. The next time someone tells me about a great barber service, right over there, I won’t care. I have identity loyalty with Sammy.
He and I are part of the same something.
We see the world the same way.
We get it.
I’ll be wrapping this mini rant on referrals with the next one, part four.