Today we have hundreds and thousands of choices available to us, the customer, to purchase virtually any product or service…but is it adding more value? I believe we are reaching a “tipping point” of too many choices not adding to an increase in value for the customer. More choices of the same or similar products/services aren’t increasing the value of these products or services.
The number one factor of why we are nearing the tipping point is TIME. There is a delicate balance between having more choices/options and having less time. For example, if having twice as many new choices costs us twice as much time to sort through them and figure out which one to choose I believe the consumer will choose time over more choices. As Forrester said in their study a few years ago, TIME was the most valuable asset to the majority of people (well over 50%) and if more choices means eating into our most valuable asset, I believe the customer will reject investing the additional time to investigate these increased choices. They will lean in favor of having more time and not investing the time to review more choices.
There is a diminishing return of having more choices because it simply takes too much additional time without demonstrating any significant value.
What does this mean to the companies that are producing all these choices…there will be more casualties. Unless the newcomers and others can create some way to immediately and emphatically show the customer they are superior in some way they won’t get the time from the customer…they won’t be pursued unless uniquely stand out. Being demonstrably differentiated will be critical to capture the attention of the customer without costing them more time.
In addition, because of the complete acceptance and use of social media, WORD-of-MOUTH will become more and more the dominant method customers use to cut through all the choices and save themselves time. Asking a “trusted resource” to help you cut through the choices will dominate going forward. I can guarantee you that almost everyone reading this has chosen the path of asking their trusted networks of friends and colleagues who they recommend for some product/service before they invested the time to dive into an in-depth search, scouting the reviews, and making a buying decision. If you haven’t done this yet, you will, and when you do you will save a boatload of time…you’re welcome.
And we are using Word-of-Mouth more and more every day…in person and through our social networks. I can guarantee you that right now someone on your social networks, like Facebook, is asking one of your friends for a recommendation for something to AVOID spending the time searching and evaluating the alternatives on their own…and it’s increasing every day…rapidly.
As a leader, I would ask you to STOP…switch your mindset and start thinking about yourself not as a consumer but the CEO or leader of one of these companies (maybe your own). You can see this happening and it’s only going to become more pervasive. So the real question for any leader is, “WHAT WOULD YOU DO if you were the head of one of these companies?” Allow me to share some ideas for you to consider and that might get you thinking about how to deal with this trend in your own organization…
Here are 5 ways you, as a CEO/Leader, can prepare today for this oncoming “tipping point” that his happening all around us…and not just survive, but THRIVE and WIN.
First, absolutely, positively become a customer obsessed company! This is what your customers are telling every company to do today…care about them first and foremost or they will go to one of the other hundred choices available. This isn’t rocket science. This is what the customer is shouting at us in virtually every industry. I have talked to thousands of customers and for some reason there is still a disconnect between what they want and what they are getting. The customer today wants it to be all about them…not about you. Putting the customer in the center of your universe and building all your other processes around delivering and incredible, amazing, awesome, and remarkable experience is not just what they want, it’s what they are demanding. And they are voting with their wallets and their shopping patterns because they have thousands of choices. Show them through every action you do that they are the most important part of your business and you will win and you will beat the competition.
Second, create a Word-of-Mouth strategy for your company. Since the tipping point of TIME is driving customers to use other resources to get things done in less time, this is an absolute must for any organization to develop. Unfortunately, most take it for granted and just “assume it will happen” so there isn’t a specific strategy. It needs a strategy to work…no longer can you rely on hoping it happens. This will become one of the biggest assets of any company well into the future. If you don’t know how to do this and get it started, I would be happy to help give you some insights and guidance…but it needs to happen to avoid the impending tipping point. And in the end, instead of just hoping your customers talk about you, you will actually have a way to make them your marketing agents…and at virtually no cost!
Third, stop self-promoting and start helping your customers any way you can to improve their lives. The era of massive promotion is fading because we, as customers, simply don’t have the TIME to invest in listening to, reading, or watching you promote your company…it’s just more noise that burns up our most valuable resource. But when you demonstrate you can help me improve my life (or my business) you get my attention and I am more than willing to give you my TIME. This is also a strategic aspect every company should be adopting and incorporating into their overall CUSTOMER OBSESSION strategy.
Fourth, stop playing in the commodity space and start differentiating your company. I would encourage you to read my post on COMMODITIZATION to learn more about how this can either destroy a company or set them apart from their competition. It is the inevitable result of the Internet Revolution we live in today. The companies that have specific strategies to avoid falling prey to the process of commoditization will be able to eclipse their competitors in ways that put them well ahead for longer periods of time.
Fifth, make this who you are as a company…your DNA…your culture…your mantra. When you create a Vision around Customer Obsession and build all the strategies above to support this Vision, everything works together to support it. But everything you do as a company has to work together or it will slowly erode back to where it was before. Imagine if you were the CEO of a company (you may be already) and whenever some new ideas came up for you to consider in the area of products, services, or the customer experience, you simply asked two questions…
- “Tell me how this is going to improve our customers’ life or their business.”
- “Tell me how this is going to save our customers TIME.”
Asking these two simple questions could completely change the way you served your customers AND it would change the way your customers viewed you as a company among the thousands of competitors. That would not only allow you to be completely prepared for the “tipping point” but it would put you on a path to THRIVE and not just survive.
These 5 things will completely transform your organization into something that capitalizes on EXACTLY WHAT YOUR CUSTOMER WANTS…guaranteed!! If you need more insights or are curious how you develop and put a strategies like these in place, give me a shout and we’ll grab coffee and I can share with you how this could completely change your business. Are your ready?