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So Many Choices.  So Much Frustration

I was watching Netflix last night and I got in one of those ruts where I couldn’t decide what to watch. It wasn’t for lack of choice – quite the contrary – the choices had me flummoxed as to what to choose.  I scrolled through screen after screen of quality programming, but in the end, I couldn’t make a decision.  All those options, and I ended up shutting down the system and watching reruns on cable.  I realized afterwards that I had fallen prey to Analysis Paralysis.

Analysis Paralysis: the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. -Courtesy, Wikipedia Often our Guests can feel the same way when visiting our businesses.  So be aware of this type of selection overload.

I see it in restaurants and grocery stores all the time.  I watched a group of patrons at a restaurant with a hundred things on their menu, and they were overwhelmed with the choices.  Conversely those who visited locations with a much trimmer menu that changed frequently seemed to think the variety was fantastic.  Think about going to pick out a bottle of hot sauce at the grocery store.  Just a few years ago you could easily pick between a handful of sauces that fit all of your hot sauce needs.  Today’s mega marts are stocked with hundreds of options that leave many blinking in confusion with regard to which sauce to choose.

So this leads to the first of three points: 

DON’T OVERWHELM YOUR GUESTS: Often businesses will confuse more with better and that is definitively not the case.  When you try to provide all kinds of products and services you my end up with more than your Guests can process.  Even though all these varied products may be of good quality, they may not all be necessary.  Rotate between them or pare down to the most in-demand.  Stocking them all can dilute the market and take up valuable shelf space.  As for services – find your brand and live it.  Even if you can be amazing at multiple services, you may drive away potential Customers with a confusing message.  Today’s market is very supportive of niches, so take advantage of your best specialties, hone your craft, and market your expertise.

FOCUS ON YOUR STRENGTHS: You can’t do everything well, so stop trying.  This is where so many businesses go wrong – trying to be everything to everyone.  If you are an airline, you may be amazing at flying airplanes, but maybe not so great at rental cars.  Even if it seems like it might fit in with your business model, resist the urge to over extend yourself.  This is the classic pitfall of those who find success:  If I am good at X, then I should be able to exceed at Y.  There have been many businesses that either erode their reputation or over extend their finances by dabbling in pieces of business in which they have no, well, business.  The other point of order here is that you must continuously hone your craft and train enhanced skills to your team.  This is where sustained training comes into play.  The best businesses acknowledge that while you may have your team well trained today, those skills have an expiration date.  Staying current with industry trends and enhancing your team’s skill set to keep pace is the cornerstone of those who stay ahead of the pack.  It is easy to ignore this investment of time and capital (especially if finances are tight), but that can quickly snowball into a poorly trained team that gives lousy Customer service.

SIMPLIFY THE SELECTION PROCESS: If you do feature a large portfolio of goods or services, make it as easy as possible for your Guests to make choices.  This could be the way you lay out your web site or your physical store front.  The other key move is to be sure that those well-trained associates we just discussed in the last section are on point each day.  When you cultivate a team that has a knack for addressing Guest’s needs, you have struck gold.  When Guests dial up your call center, visit your location, or click to your web site, they need to be able to cut through the clutter and find what they need.  Their lifeline is the on-the-ground team that you put in place to help anticipate and meet their needs.  It also comes down to having well placed signage, solid search engine technology, and people who have a talent for service.

So strive everyday to make sure that your Guests can easily find what they need when doing business with you.  Those businesses who waste Guests’ time, make it difficult to make selections, or don’t have an adequately trained team will find that Customers quickly move on to businesses who don’t over-complicate things.

Customers will always find value in those who focus on less and execute at a high level.  Having a broad and varied portfolio is meaningless if it leads to mediocrity.

Until next time, focus on being the best at what you do and simplifying things for your Guests.  And never forget to treat your Customers like cherished friends.


Tony Johnson Customer Service Expert | Author | Trainer | Speaker

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