Different is Better Than Better

I’m going to break just a bit from my typical customer service/customer experience ideas and share another lesson: Different is better than better. 

This was my big takeaway as I listened to supermodel, talk show host, producer, writer, actress, and entrepreneur Tyra Banks share her life story at CCW (Contact Center Week), the industry’s largest conference and trade show of its kind. Early in her successful modeling career, someone advised her to try to fit in. In other words, don’t make waves, don’t stand out, don’t take risks, don’t … I could go on and on with the “don’ts.” Somehow, she knew, at least for her, this was not good advice. 

I loved when Tyra said, “Different is better than better.” Yes, she wanted to be better than everyone else, but in the modeling world, she recognized that being different might be even more important. And, as I thought about this, I realized it’s true for almost every business.  

I wrote about this once before, almost four years ago, in an article titled Be Different. The gist of that article was about doing something different than your competition. Something that would make you stand out. Something that you could be known for and would differentiate you from your competition. For example, Volvo is known for safety, and Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches is known for freaky fast delivery. 

While Tyra’s comments were about standing out, it is actually more than that. She didn’t just look for something that would make her different. She took a risk on that difference. As a model, she tried something crazy. At a fashion show, all the other models just walked the runway like everyone else. It was that runway strut with minimal facial expressions, allowing the clothes to take center stage. Tyra was modeling a designer’s cape, and when it was her turn, she decided to take a risk and be different. She knew the clothes were the stars of the show, but she also wanted to add some personality to the moment. She went out on stage doing all kinds of crazy, flamboyant gyrations with the cape. It was a risk. The public opinion on her decision was touted as brilliant. It helped take her career to a new level – not because she was different, but because she tried something different. 

So, it’s not that you are different. It’s what you’re willing to try that’s different. It might give you a competitive advantage, and more importantly, it will set you apart from others. Tyra Banks was still a supermodel after her “flamboyant moment.” But something changed. She had even more recognition. That’s a significant benefit to being different, not just better. And if what makes you different is important to your customers, they will want to be a part of your world.  

Related: Give Them Help before They Yelp