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The Five Percent

Over the past few months, I have been attending a wedding or an engagement every other week as hordes of my friends have suddenly decided to get married. I have also been witnessing a lot of hiring happening at Practo (you can contact me if you're interested in joining us in taking healthcare to the next level). And of course, as part of what I do, I'm constantly looking at the various products on offer and how consumers end up making their choices on which ones to buy/use.

There is something common to all three of these things as they all primarily begin with making a choice. A choice to pick the right partner or the right employee or the right product. The rest of the experience either lives up to, exceeds or fails to meet the expectations set at the time of making this choice.

In order to make this choice, the data available in all three cases is about what constitutes the 95% of the post-purchase experience. 95% of the post-purchase experience revolves around predictables - does this candidate have the right degrees and experience? Does this product meet all the specifications that can be compared with other products? Does the person share similar interests and background?

The 95% is all about hygiene. Either its true or its not. Just because it is easy to measure and compare, this forms the basis of most decisions. But in many cases, the other 5% is very critical - in fact, so much so that it can trump the decision even if many check-boxes in the 95% are not ticked.

The five percent is about handling ambiguity, taking decisions and doing the right thing for you. This is the behaviour in unpredictable circumstances, behaviour when there is no rule book to follow. An employee who fails to act until an order is given when faced with a new hurdle, a product that doesn't provide support when you most need it (because you are the only one facing that issue), a partner who fails to evolve with you is quite useless even if they tick all the boxes in the comparison of the 95%.

The five percent is what sets you apart. 95% of the things you do (or your product does), at work, at home, can be done by pretty much anyone else with comparable effectiveness. But it is the five percent that increases your value and makes you indispensable.

Precisely because of the nature of the tasks that constitute the five percent, they cannot be put on a resume or a spec sheet for easy comparison. Instead, these tasks, when done, get recognised. And that is how word spreads and reputation is built.

When was the last time you (or your product) did a task falling in the five percent bucket?

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