Hair washed in basinThere I was yesterday, needing an “urgent” haircut, and finally only being able to get an appointment at the salon where my wife usually goes. They charge a fortune at this place, but they give a bit extra, too. I get a back and shoulder massage before they start, and while having my hair cut, they do a hand massage and cream – nice touch, I thought.
But, while I was getting my hair washed in one of those basins that feels like a medieval torture contraption, I had a thought….

This place was tastefully decorated, with posters (mainly product promotions, it has to be said) and pictures. But as I lay prone, staring at the ceiling, all I was looking at was a few aircon ducts and some fairly grubby looking white paint. At first, I thought, “They should paint this place”. Then I thought,”Hey, what a great place to put some posters.” Yes, on the ceiling! Where I can see them while getting my hair washed. Why not?
That got me thinking…
Companies don’t tend to see themselves through the eyes of their customer. I wonder when last someone who worked at this hair salon actually their hair washed at this salon? When last did they experience themselves through their customers eyes? Even if they go through the physical motions (for example, I am guessing most employees of banks actually bank at the bank they work for, and most retailers shop in their own stores), its almost impossible for them to see themselves through the eyes of a “newcomer”, a “first time visitor”. Churches (and synagogues and mosques) have the same problem. Its not just about the physical space, its also the terminology, the experience, the background knowledge required to have a successful interaction.
Once you know all this stuff, its easy to navigate your way through a successful encounter. But without it, you can be lost.
So, a challenge for businesses is to find a way to continually experience your own business through the eyes of new customers. This may require actually listening to the dreaded lurgy – the consultant!

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