Bill Couchenour | Monday, February 28, 2011
“Companies must realize that events and experiences, not products and services, create (or destroy) value”
I saw that quote a few years ago in a Harvard Management Update and it’s never been more true than today because we know that:
Doing what’s expected generates a “Thank you.”
Doing what’s unexpected creates an “Experience.”
Experiences create (or destroy) “Value” and that’s what people remember.
Creating experiences can be remarkably, even deceptively, simple. One way is to shape expectations because our expectations shape our experiences. Think about the movies you’ve seen over the past year. For me, there are some movies that were probably a “6” (on a scale of 1 to 10) that I thoroughly enjoyed because I was expecting a “4”. In fact, I enjoyed that “6” more than I did a “7” because, when I went to see the “7”, I was expecting a “9”. Companies and people can be quick to overpromise in the quest to secure business but that sets them up for failure because they inevitably underachieve. The first step in creating value is to be realistic about the journey. It’s always better to under promise and overachieve.
Another way of taking a simple step beyond the expected can be found in common courtesies. Our culture often seems so devoid of positive, considerate attitudes that it is a blessing when we experience them. I am flying 3 or 4 times a month and while, Southwest is my preferred airline, it is the destination and timeframe that usually determines my carrier. The contrast between the attitudes of the Southwest flight attendants in contrast with the other airlines is striking. Southwest actually seems happy you came on board and happy they work for Southwest. That attitude extends to their ticketing agents, baggage handlers and even their website (no change fees!). They create value for me just in how I’m treated. (I just wish they served Biscoff cookies).
Adding value can be simple and inexpensive. But for some of us it requires a mindset shift. We need to move from a central focus our own wants and needs to an empathetic view of the world around us. Only when we see the world through the eyes of others can we find opportunities to do the unexpected and add value. Think about the people around you. What are they thinking and feeling? What drives them? What do they want to accomplish? What’s something unexpected you could you do today to add value? Our families, our friends, the people we work with, the people we serve all deserve the value that comes from the unexpected.
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