One minute you have a perfect business, everything is going fine and the next minute BLAM, some upstart entrepreneur is taking your customers away from you. How can they do that?
This morning I wrote a blog about Uber, the taxi business which is growing at a steady pace and how they are innovating in the taxi industry. This industry has been around for over a century, but it wouldn’t take a long book to write about how they have innovated on the customer side.
There are plenty of stories about security cameras, about emergency taxi alarms that record and transmit audio and video from the cab. There are stories, many I have personally experiences, about GPS car navigation, which many cabbies prefer to have switched off so they can go the long way. Systems to prevent cabbies from bidding for jobs they are too far away from.
There are some cool innovations like Air New Zealand Taxis, which provides a great service for people going to and from airports.
What appears to be sadly lacking is a true customer focus. As I mentioned in my personal blog, I am big on customer focus and I believe that all business managers should travel a mile in their customer’s shoes as they do on the TV show Undercover Boss. I’m not talking about hopping into the executive limo, I’m talking about being an ordinary Joe and waiting on the rank and taking the first available cab.
Another great tool to look at the the rollercoaster ride we call business, is to use a consultant who has no skin in any of the business decisions or rationale behind them of the last decade. Let them have a look into your business. Let them tell you what it is like to be a customer, you might be surprised.
When you look around and see a new player come into your industry. Don’t put the blame on them. It may be that your focus on BAU (Business As Usual) blinded you to the obvious opportunity that they saw. If you have a customer centric focus and are always looking to their needs first, you can close the door on your new competitors. You know it is a lot more expensive to find new customers than it is to satisfy existing ones.
As Jeff Jarvis says in his great book What Would Google Do? Your worst customer is your best friend; and your best customer is your partner.