I was talking with a client who owns several car dealerships and he was lamenting on how customers are becoming even more and more demanding. “Remember when they were happy to get a cup of coffee while waiting to get their car fixed? Now, it’s not just coffee, but where’s the latte, the Splenda, and soy milk? And – oh by the way – if they don’t want to wait, they expect a loaner car while their car is being serviced!” Exasperated, he asked, “When will this ever stop?”
I got news for you, my friend. That “bar” will keep rising.
But it’s silly to try to keep up with the Jones’ dealership down the street (aka “auto row”). Offering the same things as your competition just ratchets up expectations and is a self-defeating “catch up” game.
Want to get off this rat-race of increasing expectations? It’s simple, but not easy to do: Build your own unique culture and set of experiences that align with your brand promise.
What do I mean by that? Rather than imitating, copying what others are doing, start with your brand promise. What makes your product/service stand out from the crowd of sameness? Some people call this your unique selling proposition, your value-add, or differentiation. I call it your brand promise. It’s what you stand for and how you stand out from the competition.
Then, for each touchpoint you have with the customer, ask your team, “How can we deepen our connection and delivery of our brand promise?” Brainstorm ALL the possibilities….get wild and crazy – there might be an interesting idea in there!
- Easy and Timely. How can we make the process flow smoothly for our customers and not waste their time?
- Knowledgeable. How can we teach our customers something they don’t already know (that they can’t get on Google or YouTube!)?
- Personalized. How can we tailor their experience to each unique, individual customer?
- Authentic. How can we show our customers that we genuinely care about them and their experience working with us?
- Memorable. How can we create a delightful, surprising and/or inspiring experience worth sharing with others (over coffee or on social media!)?
ONLY AFTER you have brainstormed the possibilities is it okay to look at your competition and ask, “What are they doing that customers rave about, and how can we adapt it to our brand?” Continue to brainstorm. Don’t bother to wholesale adopt their ideas – but use them as a springboard for your own creativity!
And then, from that huge monster list, evaluate them down to a few that you believe will make a big difference to your customers, help solidify your brand promise, and help you stand out from the competition!
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator. She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years. She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.