I’ve just returned from a great week out in Las Vegas for the CompTIA Breakaway 2012 Conference. Staying over and working out of the beautiful Aria Resort for a week alongside 1,000 of my peers from the IT industry was a positive experience I’ll not quickly forget. A dozen or more of us from the CompTIA UK Channel Community also made the trip Stateside and were bowled over by both the welcome we received from CompTIA and the Las Vegas locals.
One of the frequent topics of conversation amongst us Brits was the typically high level of customer service we received in the USA. The culture of low-salary and high-tipping (20% is the norm for good service in the States) obviously encourages employees to hustle and deliver great service in return for their tip. This certainly feels like it is in stark contrast to UK service, where it seems to be the exception rather than the norm to receive great service, let alone the expected levels of service.
Meet the Cabman
I experienced great service a number of times during my time in the US, not least when I took a cab journey out of the main part of the City to do some shopping on the outskirts. My driver was Stephen Lenett, aka Cabman, who was polite and courteous (what you’d expect of any cabby) but went beyond this during the course of our journey.
Firstly, while asking after my experience of Las Vegas, I shared with Stephen that I was still getting to grips with the location of everything the City had to offer. Stephen proceeded to gift me a travel guide to the City, so I could “share all the locations of the places you’ve visited with folks back home” and secondly, “to encourage (me) to visit us again to see the places you’ve not yet visited”.
As the journey went on, Stephen shared his background with me. Moving from New York to Las Vegas in 1973, Stephen is known locally as the Cabman and as well as driving, he hosts a weekday local radio show called “Behind the Wheel” where he talks about the challenges, pains and pleasures of being a driver in the City.
Stephen confessed that he felt most Las Vegas drivers were missing a trick by not providing above-the-expected levels of service to their patrons. He told me that he took pleasure in ensuring that his passengers enjoyed and valued their experience, and shared with me that many of his passengers frequently asked for him as a driver specifically whenever they were in town.
When we arrived at my destination, Stephen asked me if I’d like to arrange for him to pick me up when I was finished. As a visitor to a strange City, I was more than happy to take him up on his offer!
Overall, my cab journey with the Cabman was much more than I’ve come to expect. It was remarkable. After all, I’m telling you about it now, right?
Differentiating yourself from the pack
With some 18,000 Cab drivers in Las Vegas, Stephen has managed to differentiate himself from the pack and ensure that the Cabman is well known and liked. He is regularly approached by the press for comments, and is seen as a leader in his space.
Stephen’s work towards being notable got me thinking about the IT industry we work in. I’ve often bemoaned the fact that many IT companies look, feel and behave the same way – but I strongly believe that you’re not the same as your competitors!
What are you doing to be remarkable?
What are you doing to establish yourself as an expert in your industry?
- Like the Cabman, are you finding opportunities (or if none are to be found, creating them) to promote yourself as an expert to your local community?
- Are you creating educational content to share with your potential clients? Are you blogging or contributing guest articles to local newspapers, newsletters and web-sites?
- Are you looking for time to stand up in front of your local business groups to speak on subjects you are passionate about and an expert in?
- When you deliver service to your clients, do you do what is expected, or do you try to exceed their expectations?
- Do you make sure to thank people for their business, and ensure they feel valued? Valued enough to want to work with you again?
- Do you help people to remember you, or do you run the risk of being seen as just another IT guy?
If you’re content to be a part of the pack – delivering average service, then you’ll probably get by. Most people deliver average nowadays, and most people get by.
But if you want to rise above the pack, to be successful and respected, look for the opportunities to stand out. These opportunities are everywhere, every day. You just need to think about delivering at a higher level than everyone else. Personally, I don’t think that it’s very difficult at all. In fact, it’s quite easy – it just takes commitment and practice.
In an industry where so many of your competitors aren’t taking advantage of these opportunities to stand out, you’ll probably find that its unremarkably easy to be remarkable.