For a milestone wedding anniversary, my husband announced he had gotten me a great present. My first thought was, “Tiffany.” After all, what girl doesn’t like the blue box and the delights that might be found within it? Instead, I got something better: an Apple Watch.
I must admit, I was at first skeptical about what I would do with a watch that lets you read your mail or talk to it like Dick Tracy.
Nonetheless, when it arrived just a few days ago, I put it on, paired it with my phone—and was absolutely hooked. I love this product in a way that I haven’t loved any other tech device (and I have a number of them). That this piece of wearable hardware could inspire such devotion so quickly offers some powerful lessons for consultants or, for that matter, just about any business or organization.
Create a Customized Experience. The most powerful thing about the Apple Watch is that I can make it my own. First it asks you which wrist you want to wear it on—as a lefty, this is especially wonderful, since most everything is made for the righties. I can change the look of the watch face quickly and easily, from the traditional clock look to Mickey Mouse to digital to a flower if I choose. I can also include icons on the watch face that give me the information I want to have at my fingertips—the weather, my activity, the date, etc. It tracks my exercise and heart rate if I like. It reminds me to stand up when I’ve been sitting too long. And I can look like I am just checking the time during a meeting when I’m catching up on email. In other words, it helps me do what I want to do, when I want to do it, in the way I want to.
What’s this have to do with business consulting? All too often consultants or even corporate collaborators come in with a process and won’t modify it, even if it doesn’t quite fit the circumstances or culture of the organization. Efficiency experts would say it’s too expensive to customize. But the Apple Watch offers options and a “template” that I can adapt to my needs. As consultants, we need to be sure we are doing the same, that is, finding ways to adapt and tailor process and product offerings.
Be Indispensable. The Apple Watch only works with an IPhone. So you now have to have two Apple products and not just one. Apple created demand for something new, while maintaining the attractiveness and necessity of another product. If I were thinking of switching to a different phone when my iPhone starts showing its age, I probably will stick with Apple because I love the Watch. As consultants, we need to be equally invaluable to our clients. That means being responsive, listening to what they need, and finding solutions that work for them. It means being there when it matters and going the extra mile.
I once conducted a perception study in which one of the firm’s customers noted a remarkable example of service—a recommendation for an option that was in the customer’s best interest, even though it meant less money for the provider. That customer will be with that provider for life.
Be Delightful. People like to work with people they like and respect. Earning that likability and respect comes in part from how you make people feel. It also comes with how you convey information. If you are anxious, overly aggressive, or nonresponsive, you are not terribly likable.
Back to the Apple Watch. When I called Apple support to ask a question, the representative was upbeat, knowledgeable and seemed genuinely interested that my questions were answered. It was a joyful experience. How many times can we say that about customer “service” by phone?
Deliver the Goods. What makes the Apple Watch successful is that it delivers on its promise with its ease of use, elegant design, functionality, and a dash of fun. Bottom line: it’s a useful tool that’s also pretty cool. As consultants we need to be sure that what we provide to clients is equally useful. Our work needs to help our clients move forward, so that we leave them better off than before we arrived on the scene. It’s also a plus if they actually like having you around—a benefit that doesn’t come out of the box, blue or otherwise.
There is an old joke that consultants will borrow your watch and then charge you a huge fee to tell the time. Help your clients keep their own time with customized results, great service and solutions, and processes that deliver value as the recipe for success. Thank you, Apple Watch, for reminding me of that.