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The Collapse of Distinction

Your customer experience is probably more similar to your competitors’ than it is dissimilar. Benchmarking (copying) probably hastens the convergence.

Over on his Leading Blog, Michael McKinney recommends the new book The Collapse of Distinction by Scott McKain, and quotes what you need to do about the trend to sameness, like so:

“You do not need to change everything about how you do business to create distinction. Start by walking through your list of points of contact with customers, reframing and redefining how you perceive each moment of interaction. From these new perspectives, you can then begin to create specific points of differentiation with your customers. By developing your professional laundry list from the exercise—and recognizing that if these practices are the industry standard, then they will almost always fail to create distinction for you—you are taking an important first step in disciplining yourself as a professional to develop differentiated methods and tactics. Different is not just good, different is better.”

I used to say ‘Be different, not better’ to get across the point that difference is strategic, better is usually just operational. I like McKain’s conflation that different is the new ‘better’.

Another approach to this is to compare yourself to a competitor with two lists of customer touchpoints under the headings ‘different’ and ‘the same’. This is a good starting point for convincing colleagues and bosses, who tend to focus too much on what makes your organization different from the competition and not enough on the similarities, and so tend to have a warped view of your own ‘specialness’ or distinction.

Michael delves into the book more on his Leading Blog post here

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