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The secret to taking your business from good to great? It’s magic

By Leah Hutcheon July 5, 2018

While startups are often seen as exciting, running any company can often feel like running on a treadmill. One foot in front of another, ad infinitum. However, running a company in an industry that’s particularly hot, or particularly not, can sometimes feel like running on a treadmill with meteors flying at your head.

At Appointedd, we are lucky that scheduling and online booking is particularly hot right now. Industries that have never considered empowering their clients to book online are looking at how to respond to the pressures of a world that is, in every sense, ‘on demand’. As such, the market is demanding that we look inside ourselves and make sure that we are communicating exactly what makes us special.

So recently I’ve been asking myself the question: what is it that makes a business stand out (for the right reasons) in the current landscape? We know that with more options available to them than ever before, customers expect more, tolerate less, and are looking for the companies they engage with to go the extra mile. Simply having this knowledge in mind is one thing, but trying to firm these nebulous concepts into an actionable plan is another matter altogether.

Brands that have been carrying on as they always have are witnessing their old models – which have seen them right for so many years – lose efficacy in a changing environment, and it’s becoming obvious that maintaining this middle ground is no longer an option for long-term success. Or even survival.

What I’ve begun to notice is that there seems to be a pattern among the brands that are really thriving with regards to how they present and deliver their service offering. It always starts with a laser-precision focus on the needs of the customer and the aim of the service, and a commitment to delivering exactly that. This is what I call ‘delivering what you promise’.

The second element is about excellence, or ‘delivering it well’. On top of having a highly specialised service offering that serves a specific set of needs for your customers, delivering this with competence and consistency is what cements a business’s position as a reliable, go-to brand and ensures customers return.

When I started looking at businesses through this spectrum, it became clear that almost all highly successful businesses do these two things according to the individual nature of their customer base and their service.

But there was still a less easily defined third ingredient in this recipe that separated the businesses simply doing well from those with a blinding aura of brilliance around them, eliciting metaphorical oohs and ahhs from the crowd. This I started thinking of a ‘sprinkling of magic’.

For example, if what your customer needs is a high quality product at the best price, then delivering this is essential. Delivering these unbeatable prices consistently establishes your reputation. This on its own is enough to be a strong competitor in your industry, and stand a good chance of long-term success. If, however, you add to the mix your sprinkling of magic – whether that be a super-quick checkout experience, expert staff who can offer trustworthy advice, or transporting customers around your store in horse-drawn carriages – well, that’s when you start offering something special.

Importantly, this bonus extra is not a substitute for delivering on that core offering. Imagine IKEA relying on the appeal of its meatballs while making its furniture ugly, fussy, and expensive. Not a great recipe. Brands that try to compensate for deficiencies in their core business by offering ‘extras’ will quickly find that this is not just ineffective, but ultimately harmful.

With this hypothesis taking shape, I of course started to think about how my own company, Appointedd, fits in to this recipe. At our heart we are always committed to delivering our core product – powerful, feature-rich online booking software that helps businesses make the most of their valuable time and streamline their operations – and, because the software works, we know that our customers receive the service they expect, expertly delivered by a team who knows it inside out.

But on top of this excellence in our baseline service offering, we make sure to include the Appointedd magic that delights our customers and keeps them feeling valued. This includes a dollop of love from our outstanding account management team, our evergreen technology that keeps our users future ready, our tireless dev team working on value-adding features, and the dynamism of our enterprise from top to bottom.

So, three for three!

Once you notice this pattern, it starts to crop up everywhere. The biscuit with your coffee, a mind-blowing twist at the end of the film, or an unexpected upgrade at the airport.

And maybe using this delivery + excellence + magic recipe is no longer optional for any business that really wants to thrive. The middle ground, where your service offering lacks focus and your delivery is inconsistent, is no longer a safe place to be when others are delivering exactly what their customers demand – whether that be extreme value or unparalleled service. Achieving this level of expert competence within your core business will keep you competitive in the wider industry, but adding compelling differentiating value is what makes you the true gold among the pyrite.

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