How is it that some plain old vanilla type businesses end up creating names for themselves, elevating them higher than all of their competition combined by excelling at simple tasks? It's a little characteristic that I like to call REACH! REACH! is about stretching beyond that which is expected to create a greater experience for customers, fellow employees, and even complete strangers. I find myself enraptured by amazing businesses every single day who are are carving out a name for themselves in their field of expertise by choosing to become the leaders in their industry by focusing on one simple element of their business, the client experience. What I am talking about here are businesses so focused on the consumer experience that it becomes their number one value proposition, even in front of the actual product or service they are selling.
In most businesses there's a ton of competition. If you are selling widgets, there are probably several companies selling similar widgets for similar prices. If you are selling a service, there are probably lots of service providers selling very similar services for very similar prices. Smart companies have figured out a way to still offer their product or services, but without having to compete with others based on the actual product or service they are offering. How? They compete on service aka the client experience. You see, when you focus on the client experience, and make that your number one priority, there's a lot less competition in your field, and you no longer find yourself in a competition based on product/service/price. There's one thing that most consumers are willing to pay for and that is a great experience.
REACH! (That's a capital R-E-A-C-H with an exclamation point at the end for emphasis). REACH! is my own term I use for people and businesses that go beyond what is expected to create an extraordinary and unanticipated experience for the customer. Of course, there are many businesses that choose not to REACH! as well, but in our new world of social media and social influence where there seems to be a shift from Six Degrees of Separation down to only two or three, more and more businesses are beginning to understand that a new world economy has been built to fully embrace and perpetuate businesses that reach beyond the expectations of their consumers. In other words, exceeding expectations has become the minimum standard of businesses that wish to survive.
Let me explain with a story about a rental car company that has built a business NOT based on the kinds of vehicles they rent out, NOT based on their prices, but rather on their ability to REACH!. They are known for their service and I got to experience it first hand. Just last week, I was in Sedona, Arizona, to speak at a conference with my friend and business partner, Christi. We flew in Thursday and received a ride to the conference which was prearranged for us. On Friday morning we decided to take an unplanned sight-seeing trip into Sedona for the morning, prior to heading back to the airport. The only problem was that we didn't have a car. Not a problem. Enterprise Rent-A-Car is known for door-to-door service and they offered to send someone to pick us up.
A representative from Enterprise was there at 9am sharp, as expected. This is where most businesses feel they have done their job...they show up when they said they would show up. Most businesses stop here since the client is satisfied that expectations have been met. There are some businesses that understand that meeting expectations is only the beginning, it's where the REAL experience is just about to begin.
It was about a 30 minute ride from our hotel to the Enterprise Rent-A-Car lot. That thirty minute ride unexpectedly ended up being one of the highlights of the entire trip to Sedona. Our Enterprise representative asked if we had ever been to Sedona. When we replied that we hadn't, he gave us a thirty minute tour as he drove us to the lot.
Sedona is one of the most beautifully scenic places in the United States. There are grand mountains and valleys all around. As we drove through the picturesque town, our Enterprise representative offered us the names of all the big beautiful rock formations. He told us about the movie stars that all have homes in town and pointed them out. He showed us where Lucille Ball once lived and showed us a chapel up in the mountain that had been designed by one of Frank Lloyd Wright's pupils, while also offering the story behind it. He told us about the Sedona film festival and explained to us where the best views would be close by since he knew we had limited time to see everything. He showed us where to shop, where to check out the famous Sedona vortexes, which street to go down to find a scenic view of the entire town, and more.
Earlier that morning, Christi and I were debating whether we should rent a car and go check out the town on our own or should we spend extra money to pay for a tour of the area so that we could be sure we didn't miss anything. It turns out, Enterprise Rent-A-Car offered us both.
Here's what's important to note: This representative from Enterprise was amazing because he reached. He stepped beyond what was required and did the unexpected, to create an extraordinary, unanticipated experience for us.
Even after arriving at the Enterprise Rent-A-Car lot, our representative kept going above and beyond. He pulled out a map and marked out the best spots to visit in the two hours we had before heading back to the airport. He then gave us details on how to get back to the airport. As we bid him farewell, I told him that there are books written about people like him. He was impressive to watch from an entrepreneur's view.
I kept thinking to myself that Enterprise was pretty lucky to snag a guy like that. Christi and I visited all the sights he told us to visit prior to heading back to the airport. We took a wrong turn along the two hour ride back causing us to be late for our flight. When we drove the car into the Enterprise drop off lot we told the attendant that we were really late so we didn't take the time to fill the car with gas. The Enterprise agent (a totally different agent than the original one) was concerned that we would miss our flight so instead of having us wait for the shuttle like everyone else, he offered to drive us to the airport himself. Wow, seems like Enterprise is onto something.... their entire company is made up of employees who are willing to REACH!.
Looking to get into a business where there is very little competition and a great big return? I've got one for you and you don't even need to change the product or service you are offering now. All you have to do is REACH! to create an extraordinary and unanticipated experience for your customer and everything else will fall into place.