Fix it or feature it: turn your customer experience into a talking point

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I had dinner recently with Greg Gianforte, CEO and Founder of RightNow Technologies, who was telling me about his mantra ‘fix it or feature it’. In other words either improve a software or product characteristic or turn it into a product advantage and feature it as a selling point.

A great example of ‘fix it or feature it’ is the need to wait for Guinness to be poured in two stages and then wait for the head to form. This cannot be ‘fixed’ so Guinness ‘feature it’ as part of the proposition.

‘The wait’ as Guinness marketing people call it, is part of what makes ordering Guinness in a bar or pub unique; the wait was turned from an inconvenience into ‘good things are worth waiting for’, which taps into (pardon the pun) the emerging feeling among consumers in recent years that too much of life is a rush and that moments need to be savoured.

The great thing about Greg’s phrase ‘fix it or feature it’ is it helps you home in on every aspect of the customer experience and make a decision about each one. This analysis of your product, service or experience in a detailed way – deconstructing the experience so you can examine the detail – is a powerful discipline for ensuring that everything about your customer experience that is in your control is examined and a decision is made about it: can we fix this issue so that the customer is not even aware of it, or do we turn it into a ‘brand hallmark’ that differentiates us from competitors? So Ikea’s infuriating requirement for customers to navigate around their stores before finding the check-out is not only a fundamental part of their business model but also a hallmark of their brand experience.

There’s another, different application of the ‘fix it or feature it’ equation, however. And this is one that can damage you if you don’t deal with it in the way we are suggesting. If your product or experience contains a feature that is in serious need of fixing and you ignore it, then your competition can feature it as a way of attacking you to win market share.
So, ‘feature it’ can also be used by your competitors to focus attention on a feature that is perceived as a weakness for you, as in this Audi commercial that appears to be targeted at Toyota.

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