Don’t Forget What Got You Here

“Whatever you do

Do it good

Whatever you do, do, do, Lord, lord

Do it good”

Lyrics from Express Yourself – Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band

So, I recently completed a two-part blog on Disruptive Technologies entitled “For Mature Companies Only” with some pointers on what mature companies should be aware of in their markets and steps to deal with this issue.  My points concluded with the fact that as a mature company, you are probably a market leader which gives you a competitive advantage. Being one who can dwell on the obvious, I had assumed that mature companies would not trip up on the basics.  Doing whatever you do “good” is a barrier to entry for others.  My recent consumer experiences now give me cause to reflect on the basics and issue this reminder to not forget what got you to become a market leader in the first place.

My first example was an established credit card company with a reputation for outstanding service. An errant (in my view) charge appeared on a recent statement.  I have been a card member since 1970 and I did something I had done only once before – I questioned the charge.  I subsequently submitted the required paperwork all dutifully prepared with extensive detail and documentation.  I then saw the response from the vendor to the credit card company which was basically a statement saying they thought I owed the money.  This was accompanied by a notice from the credit card company that they were reinstating the charge.  Like Vinny Gambini, I thought I had presented a “lucid, intelligent, well thought-out objection” only to be overruled.  After a few phone calls and convincing somewhat to just look at what I previously submitted, the vendor conceded the charge was incorrect and it was reversed.  In my eyes, the stellar reputation of my credit card company was tarnished and will be remembered at renewal time.

My second case actually involves two well-established home goods companies in our area.  Both have great reputations for customer service and for us, we continue to shop the old “bricks and mortar” way versus online.  We have always appreciated the chance to see the products first hand and to ask questions before we buy – things which are difficult to do online.  Well, on a recent Saturday, we went looking for a particular item.  Getting someone’s attention in either store was virtually impossible. We were patient as it was a little busy.  The staff was cordial as we waited for assistance, but it felt a bit like being on hold when you call and hearing that dentist’s office music while being reminded periodically that someone will be with you shortly. We waited both places in excess of 30 minutes and finally left.  Reluctantly, we turned to online shopping and completed our purchase.  No sense in sinking costs into brick and mortar if you are not going to staff it properly.

So, the punch line here is simple.  Mature companies look for sophisticated ways to prevent disruptive companies from penetrating their space.  So, why make it easy by forgetting what got you there in the first place – like solid customer service?  There are sufficient threats from disruptive companies in your space; do not add to your risk by forgetting the basics.

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