We all have that favorite little restaurant or that favorite place to buy things. Maybe it is just Starbucks because they deliver a consistent product that still somehow seems special. These places are always busy; even though there are plenty of alternatives, they are worth the wait or drive or long line.
What is it that makes these places special, the experience that much better, enough to influence those who frequent them, even to the point that they will emotionally defend and justify them as “worth it” whether that be a premium price, perceived value or loss of personal time?
I think if you look into your own buying experiences while shopping and eating, you will find that there is rarely any one thing but rather a host of many smaller things – offerings, actions and people that influence your experience and create a perceived or real feeling that some one person or possibly a collective organization cared enough to differentiate themselves, just for your experience.
Often these charming experiences are diminished when companies lose the ability to measure the intangibles or undervalue the consumer’s experience. It seems so difficult to get consistently caring and truly exceptional experiences these days. I think the thought of long-term success has been replaced with the here and now for the most part and this is what happens when dollars crash into differentiation – it is simply a disaster.
Something as simple as that person answering the phone who cares enough and has a company bold enough to empower them to make a business saving “small” decision on their own can make all of the difference. Usually this is either an under-paid or under-empowered employee or someone who has been outsourced to a cheaper “resolution“ center often not fully aware of the cultural nuances or having a level of caring or the recognition needed to deal with the host of small irritations that just cannot be properly addressed from an empty toolbox or a carefully prepared response script, saving pennies and losing dollars.
It turns out that there is not just one piece that is the secret of really successful enterprises but enough care and attention to put many smaller pieces carefully together to create an amazing whole. This is not an easy creation but more of a commitment. Without this, you might repeat a few of the pieces that create brand success, maybe even match a few of the competitors’ advantages, but it is nearly impossible to recreate that truly great experience delivered by companies who are willing to invest in their people and their customers to create the extraordinary in a thousand little ways.
Go forward 20 years and then look back on the business experience you are creating for customers, and decide if your dealership will be one of those companies that is embedded in your customers’ culture like that favorite hamburger stand or that great store chocked full of memories. Will your customers bring their kids in to “experience” your store, or will your dealership just be one more place they shopped at? I wish you exceptional differentiation as you create your thousand tiny pieces.