"Groundhog Day" is a hilarious film in which the main character (played by Bill Murray) is forced to relive the same day again and again. It doesn’t matter what he says, does or thinks. When he goes to sleep and wakes up, it’s still Feb. 2 — i.e., Groundhog Day.
Stuck in this infinite loop, Murray’s character starts to go crazy. To break up the monotony, he tries different things such as:
- Robbing banks
- Learning the piano
- Driving off a cliff
It’s a clever premise, and makes for great cinema. But in the real world, being stuck in an infinite loop doesn’t sound very appealing. Yet, many businesses force this scenario on their customers. In the quest for consistency, quality and standardization, an eerie “sameness” often emerges:
- Strip malls and revitalized shopping centers that all feature the same stores
- Chain restaurants and eateries that all have the same menu options
- Special deals, discounts and loyalty programs that offer the same benefits
So, how can you keep your customers from suffering the Groundhog Day effect?
Tips for Moving Your Customers to Feb. 3 and Beyond
It’s worth noting that “consistency” in and of itself isn’t bad. In fact, it’s been the backbone of business success for decades. For example, McDonald’s Big Mac is the same worldwide, which can be comforting for weary travelers. And no matter what industry you’re in, you should always have “safe” options for the risk-averse.
Thanks to the Internet, smartphones and the cloud, we live in an age of unprecedented variety. If you want to remain relevant, you need to inject a little novelty into your offerings.
Here are 5 simple tips to get you started.
1. Standardized Back Office, Customized Front Office
You can (and should) standardize your company’s back office as much as possible. This will help ensure consistency and quality. However, consider giving your sales teams and client reps a little more leeway in how they interact with customers. The more agency and discretionary control they have, the more unique each customer exchange becomes.
2. Segment Your Target Markets Even More
The more granular you make your target markets, the more customizable your offerings will become. Instead of creating a universal widget for the masses, you can develop tiered options that address the specific needs of each segmented group.
3. Release Your Employees from the Loop
Gray cubicles, quarterly reports, departmental meetings — there’s a good chance your team is suffering from repetitive sameness. Although you can’t overhaul your entire operations, it’s still possible to relieve some of this monotony.
Common strategies include:
Making your team happier can indirectly make your customers happier as well.
4. Embrace Omni-Channel Everything
You’re probably already familiar with omni-channel marketing in which you leverage different media to get your message out there. But with changing consumer preferences, it makes sense to extend this “omni” focus to service delivery and payment acceptance as well.
- Millennials love smart devices, social media and mobile payments.
- Baby Boomers tend to prefer desktop browsers, print media and credit cards.
- Generation Xers fall somewhere in between these two extremes.
Instead of using cookie-cutter solutions for all of these demographics, allow your users to learn about, receive and pay for your products and services across a wide range of platforms.
5. Short-Run Releases
There are only so many ways to serve a patty and two buns, yet McDonald’s consistently creates buzz every time it introduces and/or retires a new burger. The company’s core menu hasn’t changed much over the years, but its limited edition concept sandwiches get customers excited.
One Final Tip for Reducing the Groundhog Day Effect
This last suggestion is arguably the most powerful. It’s also the simplest.
Consider periodically checking in with your customers and asking for feedback. It can be as basic as: “How can we improve?” You’ll get a ton of suggestions — and from these insights, you might discover cost-effective ways to:
- Reduce their monotony
- Increase their satisfaction
- Boost sales and profits
Best of luck. And Happy Groundhog Day!