A couple of weeks ago I was traveling out West for work.
When scheduling a rental car, I looked for the cheapest option: I was traveling by myself and just needed reliable transportation from Point A to Point B, so the company offering the best rates got my booking.
At my first stop in Seattle, it took about ten minutes from handing over my ID and confirmation number to driving out of the parking lot, as I expected.
But at my second stop in Phoenix, things were very different, including the rental car provider. Getting to the front of the long line was just the beginning. The software system they used needed more than an ID, and caused a bottleneck. A combination of operator inexperience, and issues with the design meant that I was still standing at the service desk forty five minutes later.
By this time, I was running late for my business meeting. Any additional delays would mean I might miss the meeting entirely.
As I waited, car rentals stopped being a commodity to me. I would have willingly paid much more for a better experience. The company I booked with in Seattle will take preference when I book cars in the future, even if they’re not the lowest priced.
Here’s the thing … if you can’t differentiate your services from your competitors, you’re providing a commodity. Your customer will look for the lowest price. But if you can provide a clear and worthwhile benefit that shows you understand your customers’ needs (never miss an important meeting because we’ll get you on your way quickly and efficiently) your customers will pay a premium.