So far this month, I’ve shared with you 1 Big Shift to Improve Quality, Beyond What You Learn with Lean and a complimentary resource that delivers an unbeatable competitive advantage. Let’s continue our focus on Quality with a solution beyond Lean that you can take action on quickly and easily.

The blog post above can help you refocus your efforts from conventional approaches to driving product and service quality to an approach which can become a core competitive advantage – changing the Experiential quality so that you consistently create a feel good experience when your customers do business with you. The next step is to become the path of least resistance.

Become the Path of Least Resistance

Have you ever noticed that parks and university campuses have paved walkways AND lots of well-worn paths in the grass that clearly illustrate the shortest and easiest distance between two points? You know instinctively that when you try to force-fit customers onto a walkway that doesn’t work for them, the path they’ll choose instead will often be your competition.

When I work with manufacturing clients or service providers, we use a process I call “Staple Yourself to the Experience,” which identifies every touch point from the time a customer first becomes aware of your products and services, to end-of-life recycling or disposal, and everything in between. Your goal is to become the path of least resistance – the easiest way between where your customer is and where they want to be – at EVERY stage of the Customer Experience.

However, trying to streamline EVERY touch point is a lifetime’s worth of work, so how do you focus on those that deliver the biggest bang for the buck? My #1 Bestseller, Profit in Plain Sight, outlines the approach I recommend for surfacing the most critical areas of the Experience as your customers see it, called a Value Creation Conversation.  It’s your own “path of least resistance” that can deliver big impact based on helping you fine-tune every aspect of the Customer Experience based on what your customers actually notice and dislike or notice and value, rather than tackling every element within your Customer Experience.

Beyond LEAN: The Action Plan

Here’s a tip-of-the-iceberg technique you can use in a pinch.  Play customer for a day, starting with your “front end” experience:  your website, brochures, newsletter, toll-free number, and so on.  Evaluate what a prospect or customer will experience when even TRYING to do business with you (I once had a client whose 1-800 number didn’t work!).  Do you create a welcome, easy, user-friendly first impression?  Or is it convoluted, full of corporate-speak, and time-consuming to do what they’re trying to do?  Can they reach a real person easily?  Repeat with your most critical competitors. ProfitU™ is structured to lead your team through a similar review with your order entry/confirmation process, your product or service delivery process, your after-sales service process, your product-end-of-life-replacement process, and to obliterate sludge or friction points every step of the way.

Bear in mind that this shortcut will help you identify some low-hanging fruit, but it is still from YOUR perspective, rather than your customers.  ProfitU™ teaches you how to embed Value Creation Conversations in the process to shorten the time and effort required to attain Gold Standard status at each stage throughout the Customer Experience.

When you staple yourself to the experience and then layer in customer input to focus your fine-tuning efforts, you can quickly and easily deliver a WOW in the areas they notice most when deciding who to do business with.  You’ll become the path of least resistance, draw customers to your products and services more easily, stay Lean, and create a competitive advantage that’s hard for others to copy.

Simple steps.  Big impact.  If you know that streamlining the customer experience would deliver competitive advantage and reduce cost and friction, just reply to this email to connect with me (See?  A path of least resistance to reach a real person). Let’s take a closer look at where you’re at now and where you need to be, and develop a plan to close the gap.

#1 Bestselling Author, International Speaker, and Accelerator Anne C. Graham is on a mission to help 5 million business leaders and their teams double their profit per employee – or more – in less than one year, in less time per week than they’re spending on email per day. Her new book Profit in Plain Sight includes the 5-step proactive P.R.O.F.I+T Plan to do it.  Connect with Anne on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.