Why do our customers spend their money with us? I mean, we are not the only game in town. They have a lot of options. In the United States, our economy is driven by commercialism and competition. It is part of our culture that we have the freedom to choose and it is in that freedom of choice that we continue to grow and improve.
The true differences between the products that we offer and the products that our competition offers is really not that great. Does it really matter if we have “Facetime” or “Skype” or “ooVoo”? Does it really matter if we have “Two All-Beef Patties” or a “Double Stack”? Not really. Although they are not exactly the same things, they are very similar. Sure we all have preferences and it is these preferences that marketing teams target in their advertisements.
But the question that remains is what makes people choose? Why do they choose one video calling service over another? Why do people choose one restaurant over another with similar offerings?
I overheard a conversation where two guys were talking about the big game over the weekend. One of them was saying how he bought some food from his favorite sports bar and brought it home to eat while he watched the game on TV. He said that the food just wasn’t the same as he remembered it from the last time he was at the bar and, overall, he was disappointed. I interrupted their conversation to ask what was different. At first he couldn’t pinpoint it. The food was made the same way with the same flavorings, but it tasted different…not bad, just not as good. Then he said something that was the true revelation. He jokingly said that maybe it was the lack of beer. You see, he normally eats this food with a couple of beers and his buddies while they watch the game together at the sports bar. What it took him a few minutes to realize is that the difference was not the food…it was the EXPERIENCE. The fun environment of hanging out with his friends and cheering on his favorite team while eating and drinking made the food taste better. The connection between the food, the beer, the sports, and the social aspects made the individual elements better. None of them individually made this average customer feel anything, but when combined…everything was better.
Winning Leaders understand this revelation. They understand that in order to win, they must be better than the competition, but they must also be different. They understand that although they may sell the same brands of shirts as the store down the hall, or the same steak as the restaurant next door, the thing that will set them apart and get the customer to repeatedly buy from them is the experience that their team creates while they shop or eat.
They train and teach to the experience. They set expectations around it. They communicate with their teams about it. They build a culture of commitment and action around it. They identify and close any Performance Gaps around it. The experience is the most important thing for the customers, so it is the most important focus of the leader and the team.
This is what makes the experience in a Winning Leader’s business much different than the experience with their competition. They are intentional about creating the experience. They talk to the customers to find out what they need and then they give it to them. The test out things that not only revolutionize the products or services that they offer, but also things that improve or enhance the current environment and overall experience.
As times change and technology continues to play a bigger and bigger role in the way our customers do business and lead their lives, we must always keep in mind the experience that they desire. Movies can now be rented and streamed to their living rooms. Music can be downloaded instantly to their iPods. Books can be selected and read on their phones. Customers no longer need to go to the movie theatre, video store, music store or book store. They don’t need to interact with the world. What they’ll miss is the experience of perusing the libraries and store bookshelves, and sights and sounds of the old record stores. It is in this loss of experience that the true revolutionaries will succeed. They will create experiential environments that the customers won’t want to miss. They will succeed by being better than the competition by creating a culture where the experience is the key element of their business.
This is what we all want…an amazing life experience. After all, we can just go online and order dinner and a movie, but what fun is that?