Making Big Changes, One Small Step at a Time

Customer Experience
Customer Experience
Big customer experience achievements start with small steps. By making incremental changes that are iterated over time, companies can find the path to success

"There is no magic bullet, secret formula, or quick fix," argues Darren Hardy in his book The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success. Instead, major achievements can be attained through incremental changes that are executed consistently over time, contributing to a compound effect.

The results of adopting these small changes are massive, but the steps don't feel significant in the moment, Hardy says. For example, people might not think twice about spending $4 on a cup of coffee, but if they get one every day on their way to work, over 20 years this will amount to more than $50,000 due to the cumulative expenditure coupled with inflation. He argues that companies too need to make small changes, which they should keep iterating over time, leading to big improvements in the long term.

In a recent interview with 1to1 Magazine, Hardy shared the ingredients that are necessary to successfully create a compound effect that will have an impact on both life and business.

What is the compound effect?

The compound effect revolves around the theory that extraordinary results only come from a series of small, smart choices along the way. Anybody's present reality is the outcome of the little, seemingly insignificant decisions that have added up to their current business growth, bank balance, waistline, relationship status. Wherever you are today, you chose to be there through all the little choices you made along the way.

How oes this philosophy apply to businesses that are trying to create a positive, lasting impression with their customers and prospects?

A "wow" experience in customer service is going to be developed through very small but meaningful impressions that customers have at every touchpoint. One of the things that Steve Jobs was known for was Apple's service impression. This means creating consistency at every single impression point with the organization, whether in the store, on the website, through advertising or email communications, and at their events. Every single touchpoint matters and every little impression is what creates the big impression.

From the standpoint of customer service, a customer' experience of the brand identity is a culmination of all those little impressions made at every interaction point with an organization.

In the Compound Effect you write that there's no one recipe for success. However, there must be some ingredients. What are they?

It all starts with choices. We're all born to this experience naked, scared, and ignorant. The most important control factor through our entire life boils down to the choices we make. Not just the big ones, but more important, the little ones.

Once you decide to do something, you have to actually get up and do it. So the next ingredient is the actions you take. We're 100 percent responsible for the outcomes in our lives based on what we do, what we didn't do, and how we respond to what's been done to us. A lot of people ask how someone who gets a disease or gets hit by a bus can be responsible. They are responsible for how they respond to it. As publisher of Success magazine I've interviewed people who have been struck with incredible tragedy and have gone on to live wonderful lives because of what they did afterwards.

Also, behaviors become habits when they're repeated, 95 percent of which are unconscious because we've developed them over time and we run on autopilot. So, we are not even aware of the vast majority of choices that we make.

Finally, consistency over a long period of time is what creates the compound effect of extraordinary results.

Many companies are focused on ROI and might not visualize how a small decision could impact their bottom line in the long term. How can they see the bigger picture?

When you look at extraordinary achievers, everyone's assumption is that they made some grand act of bravery or quantum leap. But in reality it's the small behaviors and disciplines, made consistently over time, that produce world champion athletes, top violinists, or prima ballerinas.

The same concept applies to business. It's consistency over time that produces the best CEOs and the greatest entrepreneurial accomplishments in the marketplace. You're not going to get there in any other way. The illusion of a quick overnight fix is gimmickry or fantasy portrayed by movies. But that's just not the way it works. Any smart, prudent businessman understands that it's the consistency of little efforts made through discipline over time that reap the best rewards.

In the book you relate the story of a CEO who never stepped foot outside his office. When he started making the effort to speak with employees every day he saw improvements in the company. How common is it for a small change to lead to tangible improvement?

Progress is achieved through constant iteration, constant adjustment, a thousand little tweaks and twists of the dial. If a plane heading to New York from San Francisco veers by just one degree, it would be many miles off course. But a plane has a gyroscope, a computer that keeps it constantly on target, and this will adjust the direction of that plane thousands and thousands of times during that trip. That's what it takes for an organization to get where it needs to go-thousands and thousands of little improvements and adjustments. Those small efforts will cumulate into great achievements.