There are two service stations in my town. Both are within blocks of each other. Both charge within pennies per gallon of each other for gas. Both are national-level name brands.
One always has receipt paper at the pump. The other doesn’t. One always has full window-cleaning fluid troughs at each pump. In fact, at the one, the fluid smells like Wintergreen. The other rarely has enough fluid, if at all. It smells like regular cleaning fluid.
One has an ample stock of snacks and beverages inside and a clean smell. The other is always under-stocked and has an awful odor like a bad hospital smell inside.
One has nice canopies at the pump stations, well intact, with clean lines. The other always seems to have some maintenance issues going on at the pump stations.
One has uniformed attendants inside that typically respond with a polite greeting. The other has people with no uniforms, and generally a dis-interested person behind the counter.
The price is almost the same at the one or at the other; sometimes even the exact same price. But even if not, it’s worth the extra thirty to fifty cents per fill-up, to use the one.
At which one would you purchase your gas and snacks?
In a commodity business, “the one” has learned at how to differentiate. The other doesn’t care. It is always possible to differentiate within our existing revenue stream and context; to deliver value with some thought and care for the customer’s experience.
How about your business? How about mine? What experience do we want to create? What experience are we delivering?