I’m in the midst of reading Jeff Jarvis‘ What Would Google Do?, a compelling look at how easy access to information and the Google approach to monetizing services is changing almost everything in our economy. Jarvis spends a large part of the book describing how the Google approach could revolutionize various businesses (book publishing, car manufacturing and energy companies are just some of the examples he uses). Jarvis argues that this approach could be applied to almost any business. Especially service oriented ones.
Of course, I just spent part of my lunch hour with a businessman who is proof that this thesis works. Bart Trybala a.k.a. Barber Bart is a classic old school babrber. Trained in Poland, Bart and his team offer classic men’s haircuts and shaves with all the trimmings. Massagers, straight razors, hot towels and all the personal attention you might expect from an upscale men’s grooming establishment in a major US city. So what makes Barber Bart special? One simple innovation.
Bart’s website features an appointment calendar that allows customers to book their shaves and haircuts online. When the customer books they receive an e-mail confirmation of their appointment. They also have the option of receiving a reminder e-mail as well. No long waits at the barber shop. No wondering how crowded the place will be or whether your favorite barber is working that day. And if you need to cancel, you can reschedule your appointment with a couple of mouse clicks. Bart’s site even sends you a reminder when it’s time for your next trim.
In addition to all this, Bart follows the first rule of social media. He makes his business (and his website) all about his relationship with the customers (you can even read bios of Bart and the other babrbers on his site).
Bart’s not offering services that are that different than traditional barbers (although he is an EXCELLENT barber). He has simply identified a point of pain in the Babrershop experience and used new technology to eliminate it. Jeff Jarvis (and for that matter, David Meerman Scott) would be proud.
How are you using technology to make the user experience better for your customers?