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"I trust my hairdresser. I would never get a haircut from someone else."

What can we learn from hairdressers and the trusting relationship they create with their clients?

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
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Reading a comment on how people trust or don't trust their bank or financial advisors, I remembered one of my colleagues telling me how she trusted her hairdresser and how she would never go and get a haircut from someone else. For her, the hairdresser relationship was a perfect example of a service relationship. Another collaborator got also very passionate about his hairdresser and how he trusted him.

Thinking about it, I have a lot of friends who are also very loyal to their hairdresser (and while maybe less extreme than some, I am too). So I did a little bit of research wondering if we could not learn something from this analogy and found this article in The Guardian written by an experienced hairdresser, Nina Pottel (she's been a hairdresser for 24 years). Her title is quite telling: "We hairdressers can be therapists and magicians, too. No wonder people trust us."

She explains: 

"I’m not surprised to hear that a new poll suggests that hairdressers are the fifth most trusted profession in the UK. I’ve been a hairdresser for 24 years, and have lost count of the times I’ve heard “I trust you” and “you’re the first person I’ve told” and “I love coming to see you”.

The trust between a hairdresser and a client covers so many different things. I know that with my scissors and comb, or my bowl full of tint, I could potentially make or break someone. I know that I’ve changed someone’s life or restored their confidence because they’ve trusted me to do what I do. To get to the point in my career when I’m asked for a new haircut or colour change and to be told “just go ahead, I trust you” is immensely satisfying."

She explains she is also a keeper of secrets and most interestingly, she is a connector and a source of information:

"I’ve also become a vat of information that clients can utilise, from book recommendations to mascara to restaurants to fashion advice. It’s about learning what each individual client needs from me." (...) and she highlights the empathy involves in her work: "My job involves understanding people, and taking a genuine interest in a way that maybe only their partner or best friend does. It’s about giving someone your undivided attention for an hour or two. "


What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Hairdressers as connectors and empathetic listeners. What if bankers were as trusted as hairdressers? What does it mean in terms of the banker's role? How might we create a new relationship between banks and their clients where trust is the main ingredients?

Tell us about your work experience:

I'm an NYU faculty and teach Design Thinking and Organizational Behavior. I'm also the advisor to the Design for America Studio of NYU. I'm passionate about human-centered design.

Specifically, please check all that apply:

  • I'm not currently involved in a credit union, but am curious to learn more!

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Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Anne-Laure!

Thank you for your post. It reminds me of a conversation I had with my Dad. He said that he used to trust his bank manager and bank until the bank became too focused on sales and trying to sell him a loan.

It reminds me of this post by the credit union CEO
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/financial-longevity/research/interview-with-the-ceo-of-a-credit-union/

I wonder what training bank / credit union employees receiving in empathy and building rapport.