Personal Services

Today has been grooming afternoon in Whangarei, New Zealand, with a trip to the barber for one of us and the beauty salon waxing place for the other. Both are examples of the kinds of “go-to” places that you pretty much rely on, as soon as you become a genuine “local”. As such, you come to trust both the routine or process of the places to which you go, as well as the person who is providing this kind of intimate service. But starting over from scratch is harder than you’d think, as even with trusted recommendations, you can find your expectations out of alignment, or cultural differences giving you pleasant or unpleasant surprises.

Both of us got the service that we ultimately wanted, but both had a different experience to the ones we had prepared for. A rough and robotic “chop chop chop chop” at the barbers didn’t involve any of the banter and human interaction that the experience was partly about, and the “How are you feeling? Are you comfortable? Let me get you another pillow” talk made the waxing episode into a unique luxury experience that it really didn’t need to be. But how were we to know in advance? Would we have managed to find what we were looking for somewhere else in town anyway? Do our expectations as global lifestylers need dramatic adjustment?

The reality is that every place you go to is unique, and there are clearly going to be cultural differences between the services you get in one place and services you can access in another. It’s also not really a question of whether either is good or bad – they just are what they are. Regardless, it’s fundamentally a good thing to see them, (and this relates to any kind of service in fact), performed differently, as you have a chance to pick up new ideas, or use one version to make improvements to the other.

For me, the tricky part in this experience lies in the navigation process, and the initial discovery of your unique go-to people. Is it just a question of trial and error, or is there a better way to get up to speed in a new place, hitting the ground running, without any grooming disasters?!

For us, there is no question that it has to be the latter, and we’re trying to figure out what that is. It probably combines the user review and mapping system offered by Yelp, but which can create a full address-book of personalized suggestions for the places that you’re likely to visit regularly and appreciate, in any given location. It would have to be community-based, and primarily used in app form, so you can look things up on the fly.

As always, we’re open to suggestions, of existing applications, or functionality you would include if you were designing this yourself. Drop us a line.