The Little Things That Make or Break Your Business

Source: Inc.


Your product must be good–that’s a given. But if you’re going to win¸ it’s about the experience.

The best brands understand that when it comes to offering a product or service¸ delivering competently on the basics is just the cost of entry: It’s necessary but not sufficient.

Customers have higher expectations. They’re looking for something that makes your company stand out as a little bit above average. In b-school vocabulary¸ these are called “customer touchpoints¸” and if done poorly they can send potential buyers fleeing to other brands.

Consider cell phone companies¸ for example. While consumers care about prices and number of minutes in their plans¸ the quality of connections and service¸ and the phone models available¸ it turns out that it’s things like unclear billing statements and surprise hidden fees that can drive consumers away from their carriers.

Or consider the neighborhood coffee shop. In my neighborhood¸ the shops that do the most business aren’t the ones that serve the best or the cheapest coffee¸ it’s those that provide Wi-Fi¸ ample space¸ good lighting¸ and allow you to stay¸ unrushed.

Even gas stations have critical customer touchpoints. When I drove cross-country a number of years ago¸ I wound up refilling most often at Irving¸ a midwestern chain I had previously never heard of.  Their tagline: Really¸ Really Clean Restrooms.  In a category as commoditized as gas stations¸ the consistent cleanliness of a restroom (the need for which drives people to stop)¸ can easily be the tipping factor when customers must make a choice. It’s not a benefit that’s costly to offer¸ yet most gas stations overlook its importance.

What follows are examples of customer touchpoints I have observed that I think are clever or obvious¸ yet few category competitors have done well.  In addition to surprising and delighting customers¸ these unexpected product benefits make brands more “buzzworthy.”  When you surprise and delight customers¸ they are more likely to pass on favorable word of mouth.

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