Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Why the act of delivery matters

I have a new product I’m trying to sell. Basically it will transport you to anywhere you want on the continent within hours. If the product fails, you’ll probably die. The product is also severely impacted by things I can’t control – like the weather, my competition and the economy. I can’t even guarantee that I can transport you to your destination at the time I promised when you purchased from me. To add insult to injury – occasionally armed criminals will take-over my product, keeping me from fulfilling my promise while putting all my consumers in jeopardy. Because all these things can impact the product I’m selling, my support staff can occasionally get cranky. They can be rude, but most of the time you don’t have to worry because they’ll just be indifferent. The saving grace for my product is that I have only a few competitors who pretty much deliver the same thing and if all else fails I can just drop my price.

If you haven’t guest my product is an airline. You also might disagree with the last two lines about service as you probably have that one airline in your mind that stands out and reinforces the reward of traveling. This is an important point. Most of us look at our industry or job and think about how tough it is – how the status of our industry has been established and written in stone. When we market our business we look around at what everyone else is doing and try a different spin - but nothing that will rock the boat too much. We make excuses for our own fear of forcing the change that's needed within our company to actually produce something remarkable. Something that would stand out in our consumers mind just like that airline that stand out in yours. Don't hide behind your industry or that "what would our consumers think" chances are those are just corporate excuses.

Let's take a lesson from the airline industry. It was written in stone that you could deliver just good enough service so that you would not interfere with the real reason we fly – we don't by a ticket to fly, we buy a ticket to get to the destination. However – in the last decade the occasional (very occasional) airline will pop-up that focuses on you. They acknowledge the fact that the industry is broken. More importantly, they acknowledge that the service they provide can actually increase the benefit we feel from traveling.

Your service will impact the product benefit. Positively or negatively - it's your choice. Even the best products can be outsold by a better experience. They are not separate in the mind of the consumer - so they should not be separate in your organization.