Briefcase, filofax, business cards, phone book, address book, photo album, portfolio: our storage systems have got smaller and so have our attention spans. The sense of terror we feel when we misplace our smartphones is part irrational fear of disconnection from our community and part major inconvenience as our brains struggle to hold all this important information in addition to an astonishing quantity of pins and passwords. My phone now is my brain’s hard drive especially come mid-week slump information overload.

Word of mouth in a digital age

So, when it comes to less crucial, but still imminently important issues like which salon I can go to now that my previous hairdresser has hung up her scissors, who do I turn to, but my phone? And I came to realise that apps are the new business cards. Asking a friend with annoyingly good hair which salon she uses, she helpfully suggested her trusted establishment, only for me to forget the name before she left for Ibiza. Fortunately, another friend came to the rescue with a recommendation, and she is more than a pretty head of hair as she advised me to download the salon app: ‘that way there is absolutely no way you can forget the name of the salon’.

No one likes changing salon so I was very relieved that my recommendation was better than I could have expected and that what had seemed slightly patronising advice had paid off. And this led me to reflect on business: the salon I visited was smart to create an app simple enough to be affordable for them and free for customer download. Once downloaded, the contact was safely stored for when I needed to make my appointment with no embarrassing phone calls to ask my friend for details yet again. The app provided photos of customers’ hairstyles, the salon itself and the team of stylists (it was strangely comforting to be able to visualise the establishment, know exactly what my new hairdresser looked like, her name and so on). It also included a price list, product list, links to affiliate salons and spas, directions to the salon, direct call/SMS/Facebook, basically everything I needed to know before my visit.

This particular salon offers a 15% discount on your first visit if you show on arrival that you have downloaded the app, a hefty incentive. And if you like the Facebook page then you receive details of promotional offers and events by push notification. Since the majority of impulse buys are made on our phones now, the only improvements I could think of were an appointment booking function and an e commerce option as then I could have booked my next appointment whilst under the hairdryer and bought a few new products while I was feeling impressed and in the mood to splash my cash.