Apathy as Your Company's Main Competition

by Jeannie Walters

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(Hat tip to the always awesome Sean McGinnis for inspiring this post and its title from his tweet.)

Your main competition is not the company you fear. It’s not the start-up nipping at your heels or the juggernaut you are always chasing.

Well, I take that back, because you need to worry about those guys, too.

But your main competitive disadvantage is boredom. Or apathy. Or both.

Remember when the iPod came out? So little, so cool, so unique. Now some of you are thinking, “Where is my iTouch again?” It’s not that it WASN’T cool or unique, it’s that now it just IS.

All companies invest in business development, but service companies really have to do this in spades. So the sales process is usually filled with promises for service that sings. The prospect, as he becomes a customer, is excited to sign on the dotted line. The new service or retainer or legal agreement will bring easier workdays, fewer sleepless nights, and more! Sunshine, rainbows and puppy dogs will be spotted more often!

So then the service/contract/retainer is fulfilled, in all its boring glory. Things work fine. People do their jobs. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Apathy kicks in. A personal example:

We use ADT for a  home security system. It is fine. Sort of. Certain things that don’t impact security but do impact my experience don’t work great. The remote, for instance, is temperamental. I swear we were promised 2 remotes and the second never arrived. I am fairly certain our grace period while setting the alarm should be more than half-a-millisecond before scaring our children. But honestly, it’s about the last thing on my list. And once it’s set up, it’s done. We’ve had them call when they were supposed to when the alarm was tripped. I’ve tried to mention it to those people, but they don’t care about as much as I don’t care. So there we are – back to not caring.

We get billed, and sometimes the rates go up, without notice.

We do not get thanked.

We do not feel they care.

So if someone better were to come along, offer to make the pain of switching easy, and fix things in a way that made us feel cared for? I’d bite.

I don’t really have anything AGAINST ADT. I just don’t have a lot FOR them. To be fair, it’s never been worth my time to complain. Because I just don’t care enough to make the time to do so.

I am apathetic with a capital A.

And so are your customers. They are waiting for something – good or bad – to give them a reason to care enough to be bothered. Give them the good.

Otherwise, on a regular day with regular things happening, you will notice your customer has left you. But it will be too late. And then you’ll have to wait until they stop caring again.

Photo credits: plagal and Comic Character Creations


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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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