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Do You Know Your Differentiator?

Steve Weinstein was a record holder.

For years, he held an incredible record at his company for something I think most of us would gladly pass on. Something that almost every person who has worked in customer service probably dreads at times. Something that ultimately set him apart from the rest.

As an employee at Zappos, Steve Weinstein held the record for the longest customer service call: a whopping 10 hours and 43 minutes to be exact.

No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. This man really spent almost 11 hours on the phone with a customer in an effort to find a way to solve their problem. 11 hours! I don’t know about you, but I can think of about a million things I’d rather do for almost 11 hours than stay on the line for a customer service call. It just isn’t the norm!

Unless you work at Zappos, that is! Because there, that customer service call length isn’t just impressive; it’s a goal! Their company has made a commitment to go against the grain. Most companies measure the success of a customer service call by its brevity. They want to be quick in getting off the phone with customers, often causing employees to be curt in their words and tone. But for Zappos, the exact opposite is true. They’re measuring the success of the call by the satisfaction of the customer. So, if the customer isn’t satisfied, employees stay on the line as long as it takes—even if it takes 10 hours and 43 minutes!

What may sound crazy to us is actually an incredible business decision. Rather than run with the pack, Zappos made the decision to run in their own lane. And ultimately, that decision is what sets their customer experience apart from the rest.

In other words, it’s their differentiator.

What Is A Differentiator?

A differentiator is the thing that sets your customer experience apart. It’s what your brand can do that others can’t or won’t do. It’s what you deliver that exceeds expectations. And defining your differentiator is a key element in creating an exceptional customer experience where you work.

Here’s the deal: Companies can’t compete on products or services alone. It’s too easy for competitors to copy or replicate that. So, if you want your business to not just survive but thrive in a constantly changing and increasingly competitive market, you’ve got to think beyond just the basics. You’ve got to focus on what sets you and your brand apart. You’ve got to determine what makes your customer experience unique and memorable. You’ve got to define your differentiators.

Just think of some of our favorite brands. What sets them apart in their industries? What are their differentiators?

For Southwest Airlines, it’s fun and humor in flight.

For Ritz Carlton, it’s an elevated hotel experience.

For Disney, it’s the magic in every moment.

For Chick-fil-A, it’s all-around hospitality.

For Zappos, it’s convenience.

Are there plenty of other brands in these industries that customers could choose? Of course! But what makes us choose brands like these—what makes us remember them—is what differentiates them from the rest.

Continue learning and growing by ordering your copy of The Power of Customer Experience and the book club video series and user guide for your team.


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