Sweat the Small Stuff

Think holistically about the customer experience. As you’ve probably picked up I’m not a fan of incrementalism – the “paint it blue, call it new” style of innovation that seems more directed to satisfying the need of new product development departments who want to proclaim success at something, rather than to delivering new customer value. A small tweak in the customer experience can bring big rewards.

I don’t know how many extra airline tickets Southwest Airlines has sold because they thought outside the box to make the mundane “seat belt speech” interesting and fun. But is that an innovation? I’ll let you ponder. Someone thought outside the box; You have to say the FDA required safety speech, but why not add a little humor to get people to listen, and even get a few laughs to relieve the boredom, and for some, apprehension of the impending flight. I would imagine that at least a few additional tickets were sold as a direct result of this departure from the typical aplomb.

But here’s what I would surmise. Taken together with other in-flight humor, and a truly warm and friendly touch applied by the gate agents, and the low fares, and the easy-to-use websites, and the absence of baggage fees – you have all the spokes of a wheel of great experience, from the first thought of buying a ticket to the pickup of that valise at the baggage claim. Southwest Airlines is your friend, your helper, and your companion throughout the experience. The company gets the experience.

So I say the “small stuff” can be critically important. Enough small stuff, or small stuff applied in the right place, becomes big stuff. Are the seat belt jokes “painting it blue and calling it new?” Hardly, in my book.

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