Filling Needs and Exceeding Expectations
The following isn’t meant to be a product endorsement, but an example of one company that both filled a need and exceeded expectations. Hopefully it will challenge you to look at your products or services in a similar light and ask similar questions.
As technology continues to change at break neck speeds, we’re led to believe that whatever you bought today is outdated tomorrow. Companies are constantly racing for fresh innovations to stay ahead; words like quality, best, improved, and fastest are so overused as adjectives to describe products or services that we have become numb to their meaning.
But are all these new Products and Services filling a need? Seriously, is the latest I-Phone really that life changing? And maybe a bigger question; with ever growing expectations of your latest purchase, when is the last time your expectations were actually exceeded? We have come to expect so much today as “the standard”.
Filling a Need…
When my 13 yr old sprinkler control box started cycling at random, I knew an upgrade was probably in the near future. I checked out the latest controllers available from the staple brands of the irrigation industry, but was not overly impressed with what I was seeing. Though several boasted “Smart” and/or “wireless” control (two items I wanted) as features, a lot of them still looked like the same old controller I was replacing.
One of the key features I was in search of was a sprinkler that would not run in the middle of a rain storm, or when the ground is already saturated. I suppose that stems from my rural roots and knowing how valuable timely rains can impact the yield of a crop. The thought of wasting water seems sadistic. I wanted a controller that would manage that using 2018 “Smart” technology. And, it had to be easy to use.
Is Your Product or Service Filling a Need?
Too often companies are working with blinders on, so focused on improving what they already have in the market; they can’t see the gaping holes where real new opportunities need to be addressed. They stay in their safe zones and fill needs that don’t require too big of a risk. For example…ever notice how car companies rarely make drastic changes in model designs, even when they promote it as an “All New Model”? That mentality opened the door for Tesla.
Maybe it all started with Cutting the Cord a while back, but I felt driven to find a sprinkler control box that would leverage technology to keep my grass green without wasting water. A local landscape company suggested a control box I had never heard of and added that they had installed over 50 and were yet to be disappointed. So off the order went and few days later I received a box from Rachio, a 5 yr old company out of Denver, CO.
Right out of the box, this controller was different. Way different. In fact the clean face plate only had one round button and a strip of LED lights across the center that reminded me of KITT from the Knight Rider series when I first turned it on.
Installation was a breeze, due the simplistic design of the product. But also there were a number of easy to follow videos for every step of installation and setup. From downloading the App that runs it, to setting up the programs, and testing it. It monitors weather based on the physical address, adjusting itself to match the weather. No more watering in the rain! In fact, Rachio estimates since 2014 their Smart controllers have saved over 27.5 Billion gallons of water! It may a little premature, but based on initial use and performance this unit has exceeded expectations.
Is Your Business Exceeding Expectations?
It is a tough question, because every business would like to think their product or service exceeds their customer’s expectations. But the reality is today the baseline of expectations is so high in many (but not all) industries that we now just expect we’re going to get a certain standard of service or performance out of our investment. Think of all the things many businesses provide for free today that at one time their prospects and customers paid for: coffee, loaners, quotes, consultations. The baseline can be substantial.
Take a close look at where you think you’re exceeding expectations and try to get some honest feedback from a trusted advisor. It’s one way to validate assumptions.
Finally, shortly after I registered the new controller, I received a link to download a shipping label so I could ship my old controller back to them with postage prepaid to recycle it. Yes, I know the price of the postage was in the purchase price of the new controller, but it was unexpected and it ties into their environmentally responsible message.
What about you? Is your company stretching itself to fill needs? When was the last time your expectations were exceeded? We would love to hear your comments in the space below.
Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach