Being remarkable is a never-ending process. To differentiate yourself from your competitors, you need to commit to the pursuit of constant innovation. As soon as you change the game by offering your customers remarkable products and services and talking to them in new and exciting ways, your competition will have to respond, upping the ante with innovations of their own. This means that if you want to lead the way and truly own your market space instead of always playing catch-up with the competition, you can’t just make a few tactical changes and call it a day. You have to be constantly thinking of new ways to be remarkable.
A strong remarkable comes from understanding the pains and problems of your prospects. There is no faster way to understand how your company can create a better experience for its customers than by addressing their pains with strong, clear solutions.
Tripod Technology, a software development company, was having trouble with clients wanting to make substantial changes to their custom software applications after the development process was complete. They realized that in order to satisfy the customer pain of wanting to experience their new software during the development stage, Tripod Technology could create a clickable online demo that acts like the proposed software, allowing their clients to run interactive tests before development even began. Word spread fast of Tripod Technology’s innovative new customer-centric approach to software creation. The result has been a more ample share of new development opportunities since they initiated this remarkable into their sales program.
To be remarkable, you must be able to stand in the shoes of your client or prospect. Very few business owners or entrepreneurs take the time to view their business through the eyes of the customer, to experience it as they do.
It’s too bad because this is an invaluable exercise and one of the key steps to becoming remarkable. It’s sometimes hard to see where your own business fails or falls short precisely because you are so close to it on a day-to-day basis.
Improving the customers’ experience should be the goal of every company that’s intent on living out their remarkables. Experience mapping is about more than just correcting small flaws or oversights in your day-to-day routines (though that’s a necessary first step that, with time, should become second nature). To truly improve your customers’ overall experience, you need to insert "little wows" into your standard operating procedures.
When Disney wanted to make their resort experience more magical, they challenged every member of their staff, from executives to support personnel, to come up with new ways of improving each guest’s visit. The housekeeping staff dreamt up one particularly remarkable innovation.
All Disney resort visitors find a plush Mickey Mouse toy waiting for them in their rooms, available for purchase at the end of the stay. When guests check in, they are amazed to find Mickey all tucked into the bed, watching TV. The next evening, after a day of fun and excitement, the family returns to find Mickey taking a shower! Then, on the last day of their visit, Mickey is waiting patiently by the window for his new family to return. Each one of those "little wows" is not remarkable alone. But by gradually building the customer’s excitement, by the end of the trip, the entire process becomes exponentially remarkable. The little wows created by bringing a child’s favorite animated character to life are priceless when it comes to the overall customer experience. And it doesn’t cost the company a dime—just a few minutes of extra effort on the part of the housekeeping staff.
When it comes to living the remarkables, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and intimidated by so many changes. Many companies, including your competition, are probably throwing up their hands in frustration and deciding that it’s just too hard. But it doesn’t have to be.
Start with the most important change that you can imagine. What will make you truly stand out from your competition? After you’ve made that big change, all you have to do is make one or two little tweaks at a time to stay ahead of the pack.
Remarkable Action Steps
1. Make a list of everything you think you are doing that is remarkable. Check that list against competitors, ask around the office, and poll your peers in the industry. If any other companies are saying something similar then, unfortunately, it isn’t remarkable. Even if they aren’t yet executing, it still isn’t remarkable. Sorry—We never said this was going to be easy.
2. Now that you have a list, it’s time to prioritize. As we mentioned, you won’t be able to do everything right away. Pick the remarkable that will drive the most interest in your market, get the most buzz, and really get people talking. Start by implementing that product, service, or tactic and then, when it’s up and running, get started on the next most significant idea in your arsenal.
3. Too often we take our surroundings for granted. Figure out a way to gain a fresh perspective on your business environment. Map your customer’s experience. Stand in the shoes of your client to understand their pain points and how to address them.
From "Fire Your Sales Team Today!" coauthored by Mike Lieberman and Eric Keiles, cofounders of Square 2 Marketing (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2012).
[Image: Flckr user Tom Bricker (WDWFigment)]