When you think of a compromise, you probably think of an agreement that’s reached by both sides giving ground so that the new status quo is acceptable to both. That’s how it’s most commonly used, after all. However, there’s a different definition, and it’s that which we’re using here. It is:
‘The expedient acceptance of standards that are lower than is desirable.’
Let’s focus on a couple of the ones we probably experience most commonly.
The majority of hotels don’t allow you to check in before 2 p.m. Hotel maids generally start work at 8 or 9 a.m. You’ll see them in the corridors with their supply trolleys, already preparing rooms for the next guests, when you head down for breakfast. Now, admittedly, some people won’t relinquish their rooms until the last minute – often 11 a.m. or 12 noon – but there are others who are up and away much sooner. That means there are rooms ready by mid-morning. So why can’t at least some people check in earlier?
How often, when you ask when your delivery will arrive, do you hear: ‘We’ll be at your house sometime between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.’ Don’t drivers have carefully planned routes so they don’t go back and forth and waste time and fuel? So why can’t the company tell you more accurately when they’ll be with you?
And it’s not just home delivery, but also plumbers, telephone engineers, TV repairers … then they cancel or don’t turn up! All too often that’s a day of your precious holiday allowance wasted, just sitting there waiting for the bell to ring. It’s outrageous!
Why do we put up with it?
We put up with it because it seems there’s no alternative. There’s certainly no alternative offered. We have to give ground – and time – to fit in with the people who are supposed to be serving us. Isn’t it time we broke those compromises?
What about when you’re not the customer?
We so often rail against these things when we are the customer. But what are we expecting our own customers to have to put up with, ‘just because’? What do customers in your industry have to grit their teeth and bear? I’ll bet there’s something!
Now turn that around and consider some of the companies that have succeeded by breaking the ‘wait time’ compromise.
If your car breaks down, roadside recovery can be there within an hour.
If your shoes need heeling, you can get them done while you wait.
If you go to the cinema, you can pick your seat, pay at the machine and print off your own ticket.
There are even some tradesmen who will pay you if they don’t show up on time!
Three questions to ask
We can all do better when it comes to how we do business. I don’t dispute that the standard of what you currently offer might be excellent, but by looking at things from a different perspective, by challenging the status quo, you can make unexpected and disruptive changes that give your business a real edge over the competition. Here are three questions it can be helpful to ask.
1. How can you better serve your customers?
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes; what do they find frustrating about your industry? What matters to them? Is it speed, service, peace of mind? How can you change what you do to accommodate that and so deliver above expectations?
2. What are your competitors doing?
Check out the competition. Are they stuck in the same old rut? If so, great! You can shake things up and get ahead! Are they doing some things differently already? If so, what, and how well is it working? You can learn from them and do a little ‘creative borrowing’ when it comes to your own business model!
3. What are the small changes that would make a big difference?
The ideal is to identify those small changes you could implement that would make a big difference – things that don’t cost you too dearly but that have great value to your customers.
Break some of your own compromises: change your opening hours, offer a pick-up service or let customers pre-order over the Internet. Redefine the status quo. That will give you a powerful USP that will not only please your existing customers, but also attract new ones.
Not sure where to start looking?
If you’re interested in breaking compromises in your business but aren’t sure how to start, get in touch. We can help you to look differently at how things are and identify areas where changes can be made that give you a great USP – and competitive advantage in your business.