Matthew “Mack” Robinson was the older brother of baseball great Jackie Robinson. He was also a pretty good track and field athlete, and made the U.S. team that competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. With no coach to help him and running in a worn-out pair of track shoes, Mack broke the world record in the 200-meter race. In fact, he not only broke the world record, he shattered it. And he finished in second place. The man who came in first place was named Jesse Owens.
The difference between first and second place — the margin of victory — was just 4/10 of a second!
Jesse Owens took the gold medal and went on to fame and fortune. He became a household name. Mack Robinson didn’t. He went back home to California and accepted a job with the City of Pasadena, holding a variety of positions throughout his career.
Robinson later said that if he had the opportunity to work with a coach or perhaps had a decent pair of shoes, he might have stood a better chance. The race might have turned out differently.
Think about your business. The current climate is extremely competitive. You open your doors and you compete for business every day. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t. But here’s the deal: win or lose, it’s typically something minor that makes the difference.
Lost business almost never has anything to do with your product or big-picture stuff. We all pay lots of attention to those things. The devil, as they say, is in the details.
People want to feel good about something when they spend their money. They are either moving away from pain or moving toward a gain.
It’s difficult to find anything truly unique anymore. Everyone sells a similar product, at a similar price, and delivers a similar level of service. Even the messages start to sound the same. All things being equal, it’s the little things — the details — that either have people lining up to do business with you or drive them away to your competitors.
People buy things based on emotions. Think about that. If it weren’t true, Rolex would never sell a watch and General Motors would never sell a Corvette. People want to feel good about something when they spend their money. They are either moving away from pain or moving toward a gain. Either direction makes them feel good about a purchase. They will later justify their decision with logic, but buying is an emotional decision.
Your attention to detail, or lack of attention, shows. Your customers notice this. Seeing that a business pays attention to detail gives them peace of mind and it connects with them emotionally. Doing business with a well-run organization makes them feel good. It creates a good customer experience.
The following are four key elements that may seem like little things but will make a huge impact on your customer’s overall experience.
1. Convenience. Customers do business with you because of their reasons, not yours. Make sure you are easy to do business with. Anything that saves the customer time or effort is perceived as convenient. If you make customers go too far out of their way to accommodate what’s easy for you, it’s likely they will look elsewhere.
2. Reliability. Being reliable simply means that people trust you will do not only what you say you will do, but also what you should do. Don’t over-commit and make sure to follow through, no matter how trivial. When people trust that you will take care of the minor things, it leads to bigger and better opportunities. People desire to surround themselves with reliable people. They don’t want to deal with people who aren’t.
3. Responsiveness. When someone reaches out to you, they want to know they are being heard, and are not being ignored. One of the main reasons why consumers switch their business is due to a lack of responsiveness. It’s totally forgivable to make an error. In fact, it’s an opportunity, if properly rectified. But a poor response to a complaint or request, and making someone feel ignored, will almost always guarantee lost business — and will create what’s called the “The Paul Revere Syndrome:” Customers will want to warn everyone they meet about their bad experience.
4. Consistency. Consistency in business is not an option. It’s a necessity. Consistency lets customers know what they can expect and is one of the best ways to build brand loyalty. On the other hand, a lack of consistency leads to confusion and mistrust. It might even tempt your customers to explore the competition. Do the important things well and make sure you do them well, every time.
No one enters the race, or is in business, to settle for second place. The difference between winning and losing is slim, but the impact is huge. Make sure you pay attention to the details and go for the gold. Good luck and sell well! ■