There will always be at least one company you fear. There might always be a juggernaut you are chasing or a start-up nipping at your heels. And although you really DO need to worry about those guys, they actually are not your main competition.
Losing out to apathy and boredom
Remember when the iPod came out? It was unique. It was tiny. It was a HUGE sensation. And it really wasn’t that long ago. Now most of us have forgotten our iPods and we’ve grown used to our smart phones and tablets. It’s not that the iPod WASN’T really awesome, it’s that now it just IS. Business development is something all companies need to invest in, but service companies often have to do this in small phases. Throughout the sales process the prospect is given many promises of exceptional service and value. And as he becomes a customer, the prospect 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! The sun will always shine, and we’ll have blue birds and bunny rabbits frolicking around us! So then the service/contract/retainer is fulfilled, in all its boring glory. Things work as expected. Everyone’s job gets done. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along. Apathy kicks in.
Here’s a personal example:
We have an ADT security system at home. We are fine with it, I guess. Certain parts of the experience that don’t impact our security tend to not be so wonderful. For example, we always have issues with the remote. ADT promised us 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 our home, as per the agreement, when the alarm was tripped. I’ve tried to mention it to the people who called us then, but they seemed to care about as much as I did about such things- very little. So there we are – back to not caring. We get billed, and sometimes the rates go up, without notice. Nobody says thank you. We do not feel they really care, so they don’t have a competitive advantage. So if an enthusiastic new start-up were to come along, promise a seamless and painless transition, and take care of the little things in a way that made us feel appreciated? I’d bite. I don’t really have anything AGAINST ADT. I’m just not in love with the brand. 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 what about your customers? Are they waiting for something – good or bad – to give them a reason to care enough to be bothered? Give them the good. Not just the product or service associated with your industry at the level of quality you promised, but make the total experience of doing business with you attentive and memorable. 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.
(Hat tip to the always awesome Sean McGinnis for inspiring this post and its title from his tweet.)