Remarkability: The Cure for the Common Business

Used under Creative Commons | flikr | akk_rusAs a go about my business of being a customer, I have noticed one very remarkable trait common to most business—a remarkable lack of remarkability. There’s nothing going on there that makes me want to tell other people about them. They’re just, well, so… common. Do you want people to talk about your business? Give them something to talk about!

Webster defines remarkability as “the quality or state of being remarkable.” Although in a strict sense that might be true, I believe that in the noise of modern society remarkability is not a state: it’s an ongoing pursuit. What is remarkable today may not be next year. In business the number one thing we are competing for is the attention of our potential customers. It’s us against every other thing in their life. In order to even make a blip on the radar of our customer’s mind we must stand out.

So what gets people talking?

There are many ways, but here are a few ideas:

Constructive Disruption

Do something out of the ordinary that serves a purpose. Kids love getting mail, right? But do they ever get it from their photographer? Children’s photographer Anna Mayer knows that her relationship with the kids she’s photographing is a key element to capturing that child’s personality. Sometimes kids, particularly those between 2-6, can have a hard time “warming up” even though she is very much a kid person. In order to address this Anna has taken the proactive approach of learning about each child, buying them a personal little gift, and sending it to them in the mail with an invitation to their photo shoot. The kids love it and can’t wait for their shoot!

Need Prediction or The Pleasant Surprise

Be two steps ahead of your customer, offering a solution to a problem they didn’t even know they had. One could write an entire book about how Steve Jobs did this on a grand, product-level scale at Apple, yet need prediction, does not require such a grand scale. More often than not, the best need predictions are small, ergo a pleasant surprise. They are the details that when executed properly elicit a “huh, that was cool” type of response. For instance, last week at my local Village Ace hardware store, I needed to buy a chain for a chainsaw. Homi (yes that’s his real name) not only guided me to what he thought was the correct chain, but he went a step further than expected. Knowing that, unassisted, many people buy the wrong part the first time, he took the initiative to open the package, remove the chain, and lay it side by side with the old one I had along to ensure that I was taking home the right chain. Was that a huge gesture? Is it going to change business as we know it? No, but it was worthy of remark. What’s most remarkable is that this is not an isolated incident in that store.  It’s little things like that that happen at that store all the time that have me singing its praises.

Personal Inclusion

Make people feel like they matter to your business, and bring them into your story whenever possible. A great example of this is Milwaukee’s AJBombers‘ tapping into the local Twitter community. The owner used the social media platform not only to interact with the community and restaurant guests, but in a flagrant act of constructive disruption allowed, no, encouraged people to write their Twitter names in Sharpie on the walls of the restaurant. Among others, you’ll find @brian_mayer in booth 7 as well as on “the bomb.” Even though I don’t get there nearly as often as I’d like, I call booth 7, my booth. He has made us a part of the @AJBombers story.

Want raving fans? Pursue remarkability relentlessly.

  • What are some businesses that you’ve seen that are remarkable and what made them so?
  • What are some other ways to achieve remarkability?

4 P’s of the Customer Experience Management Puzzle

Brian Mayer's Customer Experience Puzzle Graphic[This is the first of a series of 5 articles detailing what I see as the 4 main components of a customer’s experience. When the other 4 will come, I have no idea.]

When I throw out the term “Customer Experience” many people (and businesses) immediately jump to customer service or the experiential environments of a restaurant or amusement park.  Though these are ceratianly a part of CX, when you really boil it down, they are just scratching the surface.  Wikipedia defines CX as:

…  the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier. From awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, cultivation and advocacy. It can also be used to mean an individual experience over one transaction; the distinction is usually clear in context.

This obviously goes much further than the touch points that one may first consider.  I see four interconnected components of CX. In order to successfully optimize and manage a customer’s experience, a cohesive, proactive strategy involving each of these areas must be developed, executed, and managed.  I’ll do a brief overview here with a more in-depth look at each in the balance of the article series.


This is the obvious one.  Every company realizes that their front-line employees (sales reps, CSR’s, service techs) have a big impact or either making or breaking a customer’s experience; however, do you consider how everyone in your organization may play a part?


You may have wonderful people, but if your product doesn’t work as expected, … major CX fail.  The product may be an actual physical product, a related component such as instructions, or alternatively a service provided. Regardless of what it is, it makes you money.  It better be great.


A well-run business may have great people and a great product or service, but if the process for getting to those people or that product is flawed or cumbersome, you’ll fall short. More often that not, this would involve external processes such as your retail environment, website, marketing, PR, or call management.  However, it could also relate to certain internal processes as well.


All too often, a company’s policies prevent their people from executing a great experience. This comes to mind in retail with exchange policies, in banking with fee policies, or in any business with rigid, nonsensical “cya” legal policies. Beyond that, it may not be your “people policies” but rather “product policies” that effect the manufacture of your product or execution of your service.

Why develop and implement a customer experience strategy incorporating these elements?

Companies need every competitive advantage they can get to create and sustain a loyal and evangelistic customer base.  Building a better mousetrap will only get you so far. Your customer’s overall experience is what will determine whether or not they return and more importantly what and how often they they tell others.  Don’t leave their experience to chance.

As we take a more in-depth look into each of these components over the next four posts, we’ll explore

  • The importance of each component and how it relates to the others
  • How people, product, process, and policy function differently yet work together
  • My experiences with and observations of companies that do a particular component well and with some that don’t
In order to capture the breadth of a customer’s total experience, the company’s people, products, processes and policies need to reflect the expectations, needs and desires of the customer in a way that signals to them that they matter.

Subscribe now and follow @thecxguy on twitter so you don’t miss out on the rest of the series!