I’ve always been intrigued why certain things stay boringly the same yet, with a slight twist of imagination, can have the potential to create an amazing customer wow reaction. 

The Retail Hospitality Conformity Police (RHCP) have declared that the same must always remain the same because that’s what everyone does, so it must be the right thing to do.

In the restaurant industry, all the front doors of restaurants must have the same messages. You wouldn’t notice what they said because they’re all the same. And the doorknobs must be doorknobs. Every host/hostess must stand behind an old scratched wooden podium and blurt out a number. And the list goes on because the Conformity Police are watching you and have put a limit on the number of wows you’re allowed to have.

Why is it that every hotel must have the same dreary-looking lobby with uniformed staff stationed behind an over-size large counter, all wearing a button that says, “Ask Me”

Why is it that every car rental agent must ask “Are you here for business or pleasure?”

Why is it that every grocery story says, upon check-out, that I’ve saved over $700 this year? If so, “Give me the money.”

Conformity is boring and leads to decay. There’s no customer conversation and no re-memorability when you conform.

Why do all banks look the same? The Conformity Police are watching; why else?

Since most banking is done at the drive-thru’s, (why would anyone want a non-experience in the lobby), they why isn’t there a team member outside, serving hot coffee on a chilly morning? I can only think of one reason.

If one looks hard enough, you can find some examples of ‘breaking the law.’ Capital One Café – a combination bank, workspace and coffee bar is a terrific example. 

One of the best examples of conformity in a restaurant is when the server brings you that wonderful looking black pseudo-leather folder (always supplied by a credit card company) with the check inside, along with the small-print comment card, and a cheap pen that reads ‘Viagra’ on it.

How many times have you ever said, “Wow, look at this fabulous leather folder?”

And yet this boring, aged ‘transactional event’ happens day in and day out at restaurants around the world – all missing out on an opportunity to create a positive lasting reaction.

 But the Conformity Police have laid down the law: you must do what every other restaurant does. If Chili’s does it, then it must be the right way to do things. Retailers must do what Macy’s is doing because it’s the right way – even as Macy’s’ sales takes a deep-dive. 

 There are a few who are breaking the law, like Tony, the owner of ‘Zero Otto Uno Italian Café in Hoboken, NJ. A phenomenal customer experience exceeded all expectations when the check was delivered (get this) in a vintage cigar box!

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After he placed it on the table, I carefully looked around and braced myself; Fortunately, I didn’t see the Conformity Squad coming in.

Here’s the point: While a vintage cigar box may not be applicable to your business category, there may be something else that works that stirs conversations.

Those who run businesses soon get in a space where comfort is comfortable. That’s when mediocrity happens, growth stops and customers forget about you. Yikes!

No matter what business you’re in, there’s only ONE BUSINESS you should be concerned about: The business of creating memories.

Are you brave enough to challenge the forces of conformity and make a difference?

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