It Is What It Isn’t: Service Done Right (and with BEER!)

On a road trip through Idaho this past summer, I did what I usually do when it’s time to eat, which is drag my family to a brewpub to sample local beers. After all, Portneuf Valley Brewing was just a few turns off the freeway, so we went for it.

beer-flightI typically order a beer flight at brewpubs since it can be difficult to settle on just one beer without tasting a few first. Beer flights usually consist of 4 or 5 different beers, but the flight at this place was 10! I must admit, I was a little overwhelmed as I started combing through the list to make note of which ones sounded good to me. I wasn’t even sure how I’d remember them all. But then the server came to the table and said something that changed my whole perspective: “We have 11 beers on tap,” she said. “So the flight is every beer except one.” Wait. What? Ahhh! That meant I didn’t have choose which beers I wanted to try, I just needed to choose the one beer I was least interested in trying. I was instantly relieved and also very very pleased. The beers were great, but what really stuck with me was this idea of “Everything but one.” It made the ordering process super easy and fulfilling, and the flight was so varied that I never wondered if I’d made any wrong choices. Being able to try 91% of what’s offered in one go gave me an amazing sense of satisfaction.

When I got back to Los Angeles, I began thinking about how this “Everything but…” approach could be applied to what we do for web design and digital marketing.

During a recent branding exercise, we came up with an idea of creating a client “Bill of Rights.” Such a document would be a statement to clients about all the things they should expect from a digital agency. The more I thought about it, though, the more I wondered if that would be any kind of significant differentiator. I mean, don’t all agencies say they have excellent web designers, create amazingly effective user experiences, and that their web programmers are the best in the business? Heck, even we already say something like that. — Oh, on a related note, I actually received a request for a proposal recently that stated: “WordPress developers are a dime a dozen.” Ha! — So, if we assume for a moment that all agencies do amazing work, maybe it’s worthwhile to take look at what they don’t do.

This line of thinking led me to consider a statement like: “Yeah yeah yeah. With Ripe, you will get all of that great stuff; but what you WON’T get is … grandiose design that conceals critical information, poor user experiences that frustrate your customers, unenthusiastic project management that bogs down momentum, or wasteful inefficiencies due to lack of experience or innovative thinking.

Maybe sometimes a thing can be more effectively defined by what it isn’t than what it is. Or maybe this is just an exercise in pondering aloud. Either way, I think it’s kind of interesting.

Oh, and my other takeaway from the beer excursion is that 10 beers are better than 4 or 5. Whoever said “less is more” might not have considered a double-sized beer flight! :)

Cheers!

cheers