They were so close!

So_close I believe that most businesses have absolutely no desire to be ordinary.  They want to be…and probably many believe that they are….extraordinary. 

And for many of them….they are so close.  But somewhere along the line, they missed it.  Maybe by just a sliver.  One question unasked.  One pillow unplumped. 

Let me give you a few examples that I've stumbled on over the past couple weeks.

As I mentioned earlier, I had a quick in/out trip to DC a few weeks ago.  So I called the vet to make boarding reservations for Maggie, the mostly lab

The tech who answered the phone asked all the usual questions. 

  • Did I want her to have a bath (Good god, yes!
  • Did I want her to have a fecal check (Sounds ugly, but what the heck. This is how a dog owner exacts revenge for the chewed shoe.)
  • Did I want her to have the luxury boarding package (For $2 more, she gets extra walks, extra treats, extra love….why not?

I hung up, feeling good about the care she was going to get.

So when I got to the vet's office with Maggie, guess what.  A different tech asked me all the same questions. 

Now, I am not feeling so good.  They missed their extraordinary moment.  Imagine if I'd walked in and she'd said…"great, Maggie is all set for the luxury package and a bath.  And don't worry, we'll have the fecal check results for you when you pick her up."

What would it have taken?  A sticky note on her chart?  A new process/procedure that makes sure that information gets passed along?  The tech taking 3 seconds to check the file when we first walked in?

It wouldn't have cost them a dime.  And it's probably not a big enough deal to ever cost them a customer.  But it does cost them having to settle for being ordinary.

Let me give you another example. 

I almost always fly United.  For lots of reasons but one of the biggies for me is that they have Red Carpet Clubs at most of the airports where I have layovers. (And O'Hare has 3 or 4)  I can go into a Red Carpet Club, grab a drink and a desk…and get lots of work done.  I hop on their free wi-fi, snack on their complimentary fruit and I am a happy camper for a couple hours. 

Overall, Red Carpet Clubs get s big thumbs up from me.  Except for their desk chairs.

Picture this.  In most of the clubs, they have rows of desks, two by two.  So if you are sitting at a desk, you have your back to someone else's back…as they are also sitting at a desk.  The desks are usually fixed so there's no moving them around.

The chairs are very nice and very comfortable.  But…they do not (with the arm rests) fit under the desks.  So if you want to get up, you almost always have to ask the other person to also get up, because your chairs bang into each other.  They missed their extraordinary moment.  All it would have taken was someone to either measure the desks or test drive the chairs.

It wouldn't have cost them a dime.  And it's probably not a big enough deal to ever cost them a customer.  But it does cost them having to settle for being ordinary.

Here's my question to you.  What is happening or not happening at your place of business that isn't costing or making you a dime and probably won't ever cost you a customer….but it is making you ordinary?

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4 comments on “They were so close!

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I’m sure it would have cost United a little bit more to check their chairs…just a little. However, not to miss the point, companies I take my business to and rave about usually aren’t so different than all of their competitors–they typically sell or do the same things. But like you pointed out, it is the little things that make the world of difference. Like the sales associate who remembered my name. It’s the little things that take companies to the next level, from ordinary, to extraordinary. These are the businesses that will get talked about (in a good way!). WOM marketing sky rockets when companies focus on exceeding expectations, if even only slightly.

  2. Kneale Mann says:


    A quick aside, I always enjoy your posts, thanks for sharing.

    If companies are searching for a competitive advantage they can begin by paying attention, telling the truth and creating encouraging co-creative internal customer service.

    I recently wrote about my Internet/Cable provider calling my office about a $31.59 discrepency in my payment after 20yrs without missing a dollar. It was an insult.

    I then spent $2,500 on brakes and tires at a local garage and would tell anyone to bring their business to this shop. The service was exceptional.

    $31.59 vs. $2,500.

    A cornerstone of the new economy will rest on creativity and creating experiences – those include the exchange of goods and services.

    Let’s sink a few more putts.


  3. Elizabeth,

    I think that’s my point. It doesn’t take a huge gesture to win our loyalty. It’s minute little details that make us feel as though they went out of their way to notice us…and to show that they noticed us.

    I think in some ways, it’s about not feeling invisible, which is what rote, ordinary service makes us feel like.


  4. Kneale,

    Ahhh, I totally feel your pain. There is no greater insult to us from a service provider — than for them to not give us credit for the business we have given them.

    Your cable company could have handled that completely differently…and you would have gladly given them the money.

    As I said to Elizabeth above…we don’t want to be invisible. And in your case…we don’t want the fact that we’ve been a good customer to be lost in the transaction.

    I swear this stuff is simple — even though most businesses blunder it.


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