Thursday, March 27, 2014

Find Small Innovations That Make a Big Difference

Most innovation doesn't come from major breakthroughs; it comes from looking at things slightly differently and making small - but significant - changes.

Here's an example ...

I recently had dinner at the Red Opium restaurant in Perth. It's fairly new, is in a very quiet part of town, and offers an unusual style of food (tapas-style Thai!). So they have to do things differently to get noticed and talked about.

And they do. First, the food is good (very good!), and that's an essential first step.

Second, the service is good as well: friendly, professional and reasonably fast for a busy night.

And, of course, in Perth's highly competitive restaurant market, value for money is important as well. And they get a tick on that score as well.

But quality, service and price alone aren't enough anymore. After all, every other restaurant would also claim to offer all three.

The difference has to come in the customer experience.

And here's one thing the Red Opium does differently ... When we arrived, our table was reserved for us with a handwritten card with my name on it:


This added a beautiful personal touch to the experience. We weren't "Table 17", nor did we have a table with a cheap metal "Reserved" sign. No, we had Gihan's table!

This doesn't take much to do (they had my name when I made the booking, and it only takes a few seconds to write it on a card), but it makes a big difference.

What small innovations can you make in your business?

Innovation doesn't mean you have to find big breakthroughs. In fact, sometimes searching for The Next Big Thing can distract you and drain your resources. Instead, turn your attention to the little things.

If you're not sure where to start looking, here are three questions to ask:

  1. What is everybody in our industry doing in exactly the same way?
  2. What are we doing that doesn't delight our customers?
  3. (Best of all) what is everybody in our industry doing that doesn't delight our customers?

Whatever your business, I'm sure you can find examples of answers to these three questions. Then consider how you could change this - to be different from your competition and to improve your customer experience. You might be surprised to find how easy it is to do - but how big a difference it makes.