I was out and about in my hometown of Fairfield, CA recently and had a few minutes to kill before meetings so thought I’d park myself in a café and get some work done. “I’ll go to Starbucks”, I thought. “Well, on second thought, Peet’s is on the way too, I’ll go to Peets. I like Peets’ coffee better anyway… “. Then I remembered, “Oh wait, but last time I had trouble logging on to the internet and had to go back up to the register to get a code to log in … oh yeah, what a pain. I’ll just go to Starbucks where I can log on instantly.”
Wow – it hit me like a ton of bricks. Admittedly, I like Peets better and always have. (I’ve been Peets fan since Starbucks was just a twinkle in the eye of the Seattle grunge crowd) And still I chose Starbucks because of a seemingly miniscule –and almost stupid – little “extra”. How hard would it have been for me to be proactive and ask for the code when I ordered my coffee? Not hard at all. But what if I forgot? Then I’d have to leave my laptop, coffee, and handbag at the table and hope it would be ok or pack it all up and schlep back to the register to get the code. So, I picked the easier and more convenient option- even if it wasn’t my first choice for actual coffee.
So, what’s going on here then? Are Starbucks and Peets in the coffee business or the internet service provider business? Well, clearly, if it was all about the coffee, I’d have chosen Peets.
What struck me is the realization of how much peripheral services and add-ons have made products and services about much more than the products and services themselves; Starbucks and Peets don’t sell coffee. They sell an experience. And so do you.
We small business owners need to examine the entire experience we deliver; not just the product or service offering. What do we do every single day to make it not only easy, but absolutely and completely 100% convenient, pleasant and fun to do business with us? The internet code in the coffee shop seems like such a stupid – almost insignificant – little thing and yet because of it, I chose Starbucks over Peets even though I prefer Peets coffee. Seems crazy, doesn’t it? Not really when you realize they are not merely selling a $4 cup of coffee – but a whole experience that happens to revolve around that $4 cup of coffee.
You may very well have the best product or service in town but what is the one seemingly insignificant thing that could cause your customers to turn to a competitor instead? It may be something you never even thought of. Something you don’t consider an obstacle. How easy is it for customers to find you, to reach you, to pay you? How do they feel when they walk into your office or store or call you? Is your space clean and inviting, does it smell good? (Oh, that’s another story – there is a Raley’s in town that I will avoid at all costs because it smells like a mixture of pine sol and old fish). Do they get a warm welcoming feeling? Are your restrooms clean? Do your employees smile or are they grumpy? Do you easily provide all the little “extras” that are now standard in your industry? Do you go above and beyond expectations? Do you make it absolutely seamless and fun to do business with you? Do you deliver an entire experience or do you simply sell a product or service? It’s worth thinking about and taking a long hard look at, I know I am….
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