In Montreal we have a ritual. Twice a year we change the tires on our cars. In November we switch out the summer ones for winter ones and in the spring, the summer ones come back on. Last year, the small garage we go to told us our tires were out of whack.
We asked around, did some research and, to the best of our knowledge, came to the conclusion that he had lied so we went to another mechanic. That’s the garage’s losing game. Drip by drip he loses his customers and closes shop.
If you’ve been in business for a while you quickly learned that you knew more than the customer and some decided to use that knowledge to deliver a better service (or better products), others used this to lie and cheat to make a few quick bucks.
But you know how the story goes – the rules have changed. The tables are turned. The customer has access to more knowledge than ever. And the rate is accelerating – phones, tablets, blogs, free calls, Facebook, news sites… Little, if any, information is scarce today. It doesn’t appear that way, especially to those who chose to lie and cheat.
And that’s exactly where their problem lies. They built their business on scarcity of information – their ways, their pitches, their promotions all depend on the customer not knowing. That’s a losing game.
The one who wins is the one who partners with the client, shares the information and helps them make the best choice or even the one with the better story, the better experience and the better process. It might be counter intuitive at times, but that’s the winning game.
By definition the future is uncertain. There are more predictable futures and less predictable ones, but certain ones don’t exist. We try hard to predict. We look at past performance, credentials, university degrees, seniority and so on. All noble attempts to make the future certain, but all fail at some point or the other.
On the other hand, looking backwards almost guarantees we live there, like a hermit, isolated from the rest. Living tomorrow often means keeping up with the Jones’s, delusions and missing the track. If that’s what you are after, then by all means live there, the former offers small possibilities of continuity and the latter, illusive monster rewards.
Some operate well with this uncertainty, others not. Neither matters. What’s important is today, where it’s happening – present moment awareness if you will. That often gets lost. It’s much safer to live elsewhere…in the plan or in “the good old days,” two moments that don’t really exist.
So sure look to tomorrow and remember yesterday. No need to get trapped by there, see what that means today, in the next 5 minutes.
Go make something important, today.
Impress, delight, over deliver. Give your clients something to rave about. The alternative is to squeeze every penny out of the interaction, maximize your bottom line instead of giving a gift, beef up the small print instead building trust.
Sure, reduce barriers, make it easy to refer you, give gifts, but don’t mistake of thinking these will drive referrals. Gimmicks are rarely sustainable, only the hard work of delivering more than what is expected, building great products, developing honest relationships and aiming for the long run will deliver more referrals. (Side note: notice how delighting does not mean giving in to every customer whim and demand.)
Referrals are a matter of trust. Quick fixed will never change that.