Jeff Lawson, the CEO of Twilio (the previous start-up I worked for) developed some amazing core values for his company called Twilio’s Nine Things. One of those values always stood out to me and has become somewhat of a mantra in my daily customer interactions,
Being a foodie, experiences are important to me because mechanical transactions (e.g. you pay me and I deliver a product or service) don’t provide very sticky memories. There’s nothing memorable about the last time you purchased some Spicy Nuggets from the Wendy’s drive-thru for 99¢ but I’d wager you remember the last restaurant you dined at that nailed everything (ambiance, customer service, and food quality). The difficulty with experiences is If you get just one of the variables wrong it can ruin your whole night and make the difference between that 3-star review and 5-star review on Yelp.
I started mulling over this concept after reading Seth Godin’s, “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?” where he focuses on the idea that there are workers who will fit perfectly into their job descriptions that can be easily replaced like cogs but there is another breed of employees who produce art. That is, art that creatively adds value to organizations that can’t possibly be summed up in a few resume bullet points but functions as the secret sauce to make things tick. Sometimes the art can’t be defined but everyone senses it in the air and knows who the artist is.
Being a left-handed guy in a right-handed world I couldn’t help but think…
How can I create artistic experiences for my customers, peers, and internal stakeholders? I want my dialog with customers to be like that umami moment in the movie, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” where his customers take their first bite of sushi and it is so refreshing that they can’t help but proclaim, “ahhhhhhhhhh.”
Why can’t we leave our customers feeling like they just went to the best restaurant of their lives?
Why can’t we make our customers feel that they are human beings not just our next deal?
I think we can accomplish the creation of artistic experiences by breaking apart our daily interactions for the core elements in our jobs. Me being in software sales my partners value:
- Deep product knowledge
- Strategic consulting (product fit, go to market strategies, and adding other business value)
- Appropriate engagements with technical resources
- Succinct meetings that value everyone’s time
If I put deliberate practice toward perfecting each one of these items I would leave my partners with that umami moment and you would too. The umami moment may never be verbalized but that’s what separates the good from the great. That is what separates the one-time transaction from the lifelong customer.
Remember there’s only one Mona Lisa but a million bumper sticker knock-offs floating around. Which one are you? Which one do you want to be?