The one question that multiplies your impact exponentially

Aug 25, 2022

One of the best questions for taking your impact from good to great is this: What else? If you've read The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungray Stanier, you're already familiar with this question as a great tool for leadership. In this post, you'll see how we use it in our projects to give customers what they want - only better.

Ask how it could be a little better each time.

Delivering on a new customer project, you always hope for the best impact. You want to hear, “oh my gosh, I can't believe that's so great!” But you have to go into it knowing you're not going to hit on all fronts. You just try to do a little bit better each time. You look at everything and think, what else? How could I make this better? 

Just as a small example of that, right now I'm working on a name tag for a customer’s awards event. The expectation from the customer is just that we have a decent quality name tag with a cool design that has their name on it. But I’m looking at the back and it's just blank. And even though the customer would be fine with that, it bugs me.  

I started thinking, what else? What can we do to add just a little bit more impact, to go just a little bit further beyond what they're expecting? Even though they didn't ask for it, how could we make it better? It's especially great when it’s something that I don't have to necessarily run past them. I just do it, and it ends up being an unexpected pleasure for them. 

Find the hidden opportunities for bigger impact.

With every project we do, there are all these hidden opportunities to look at what the final experience is and how we can make it better. I think our expectations are a little bit higher than the customers' expectations because they don't know what's possible. Maybe they would look at printing on both sides instead of just the front and think, I know this thing is costing me $2 a piece, so if we print on the back, it's probably going to be $4 a piece and that's just too much for me. What they don't realize is that not all of the costs are doubled by printing on the back, it might only be 20 cents more, and it’s totally worth it for the added impact. 

But, you know, when someone might think, "oh, well that's just a little too extravagant," or it's going to be too much money," it's our job to help them look at the payoff versus payout. There's often a lot more payoff than you might think from a simple change. That's where we step in to ask, what else? How could we make this even better? 

From that standpoint, some of the things we try to implement go unnoticed. They don't know that it was supposed to be one way, and we actually made it better by going another way. But I think all those things lead into the whole package of experience, and that’s what we're trying to create: a whole experience. 

Measure success by the whole experience. 

I think if you tie all your emotions or your evaluation of success to each individual little thing that you might do on the project, then you're up and down. And that's a bummer. So I look at it from another angle, I try to timeline the whole experience, the whole process. For our customer’s awards event, we're doing lanyards, we're doing name tags, we're doing name tag holders, we're doing shirts, we're doing custom boxes, we're doing backpacks and water bottles, t-shirts polos and shirt boxes. All those things tied together will create a nice uniform package for them when in years past they haven't done quite that much.  

We get the best results for our customer by continuing to ask that question: What else? How are the things they’re looking for going to be used? What else are they doing in the same event? How could we add more value? And then we can come to them with ideas they might not have thought about: what if we did this? What if we added this to it? And what if we made this one small upgrade that will give the whole package a much bigger impact?  

"Yes" isn't the only win.

More often than not, they say no. It's either not in their budget or not something they're interested in. But then you get those one or two times where they say, "That'd be really cool!" Then you end up implementing that idea which they wouldn't have done before. And I think that creates a lot of trust in us, where they start coming back to us asking, well, what do you think, what else could we do? Versus just saying here, this is what I want, you know, nicely drawn out in this little box. 

I'd rather be consulted about, what else can we do? What are your ideas? And quite honestly, that's really the value that we bring beyond something like Amazon or another vendor where you just shop for what you know. 

Keep asking, what else?

It’s worth the effort to make those suggestions, to keep asking, what else? They're not going to take it and run with it every time. Maybe it happens one out of 10 times or one out of 20 times, but that's enough. And in the meantime, you’re still building that reputation as someone who helps them get a bigger impact. 

You're making deposits into the bank account of what you bring to the table with your ideas. They know that you're always going to look at something a little bit differently. You're going to challenge them on what they're ordering, why they're ordering it, or what else they could order to go with it. It doesn't really take any time. And the payoff for time spent on that is tremendous. 

Shoot for that big opportunity. Don't think something's too big or too far out of your reach to be able to do. Keep asking “what else?” There’s a lot of great stuff on the other side of that question.  

Join us at Connections 2022 for more “what else” ideas! 

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