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Customer Service: Never Underestimate the power of an Angry Customer

Customer Service: Never Underestimate the power of an Angry Customer

Blockbuster was the undisputed leader in the movie-rental business for almost 30 years. That leadership position came with all the trappings of a company that was oblivious to its customer needs and slow to adapt to emerging technologies. That lethal combination led to its rather quick unraveling.

The high price of movie-rentals combined with the late-fee fleecing made its customers feel victimized and left a sour taste in their mouths. But a lack of viable alternatives kept its customers coming back. That changed with the advent and the rapid proliferation of the internet. Add to that the advances in streaming technologies, and companies like Netflix, Hulu presented disgruntled Blockbuster customers with a better alternative. And the rest as you know is history.

Similar story played out in the music industry. Steve Jobs and Apple (then, a re-born and fledgling technology company) capitalized on the ire of music lovers toward big record labels. The customers felt cheated when they were forced to buy an album even though they liked only one, or maybe two tracks in that album. Again, technology played a major role in the dismantling of the monopoly of the record companies. The digitization of the music opened the door for innovative companies like Apple to create the hardware that let its customers buy music a-la-carte and store and play thousands of songs.  

The (retail) book store industry experienced similar fate. Although, it was more a déjà-vu experience for the big hitters in this industry. Barnes & Noble, Borders and Walden Books (both, bought out by Barnes & Noble and now shuttered) put small mom-and-pop and independent book stores out of business. Their MO: Saturate a local market with a lot of big-box stores, offer a huge selection, and finally, undercut the smaller stores’ pricing. It worked because they were able to move a lot of volume, but the knowledgeable staff and great customer service that was synonymous with the mom-and-pop and the independent book stores was definitely lacking at these big chain stores. So the customers never developed the fondness, and did not embrace these (big) stores as part of their local community.

These big-box stores were beaten at their own game by upstart companies like Amazon and the likes. The online companies enjoyed significant inventory and cost advantage over these big-box book stores, which they promptly passed on to their customers. Thus began a slow march toward online shopping. In recent years, this pattern has accelerated at a far greater pace, thereby signaling trouble for the big-box stores. And more recently, the proliferation of the e-readers and smart-phones have rendered the concept of big-box retail book stores obsolete.   

The above theme played out across many industries. Newspaper, network television, retail, photography and travel agencies are some that come to mind.

From the above examples it becomes clear that even though price and innovation play a significant role in the rise of a business, those attributes should not be the sole drivers of a business strategy. Instead, a successful business strategy should include fostering a culture of providing exceptional customer service, because it will stand the test of time.

Image Sources: youtube.com



Last Updated: 2017-10-26 19:37:33

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