A few years before the VHS and DVD renting giant Blockbuster ran out of business, the company ran a study on customer experience in their stores. The results were wonderful, most of the respondents liked the overall experience. These exciting results were mostly connected to the fact that customers have a chance to see and chat with their neighbors and read cases of DVDs, but why to focus on details, am I right? If something is running smoothly, there is no need to change things, am I right?
Well, meanwhile a small startup called Netflix was slowly gaining its first users. Their unique selling value was simple yet strong – laying naked in the bed, eating pizza and consuming almost infinite content piece by piece. “Surprisingly” this has turned out to be the winning formula. Now think about that, you have a strong brand, you have customers you have content and most importantly you have resources and despite all of that, you choose to put yourself in the role of follower. I understand that there might be other hundreds internal reasons why Blockbuster decided to wait but none of them matters now, does it?
Power of platforms
Netflix is just one of many stories where well-settled businesses missed their timing to engage with a new platform. The greatest example of all time is Amazon. Imagine that you are literally entering the most competitive market of all. The market that belongs to actual business giants. Your presence, however, is more or less invisible since your whole focus is placed on this new platform where only a fraction of customers actively operate and buy stuff. A few years later you are the major threat to those same giants who ignored you. There is no doubt that Jeff Bezos’ Amazon did 1001 other things right but let us not forget, it all has started with a bet on the right horse – the right platform that offers superior experience. He was simply looking right direction at the time everyone was looking somewhere else. One of the very basic marketing rules teaches us that is vital to focus on a small segment with growing potential. Another tells us that superior customer experience always wins, yet companies consciously and unconsciously decide to stay ignorant …
Being in the world of Virtual Reality for a while, I’m starting to experience a dejavú. The new platform that is being ignored by the majority of big players slowly attracting its first users. There are thousands of other reasons that support the fact of why not to explore this space. There are not enough users active, people will never buy staff through VR, there is not a clear ROI. Isn’t all of that a bit familiar to you? Online will never dominate, customers will never ever want to pay online, customers will … The thing is, we all have our beliefs and same as Jeff Bezos, we all are betting on different horses in this never-ending business race.
Ask differently, think in long term
To find the right answer you need to ask the right questions. I genuinely believe that the biggest mistake of all of these major players can be narrow down to 2 things: wrong questions, short-term thinking. The standard questions that manager with assigned KPIs asks: What it will bring right now? How much closer do I get to accomplishing my monthly/yearly KPIs? What is the ROI? Instead of asking; what we can lose if our competitors invest in this and we don’t? What this step will mean for us in 3-5 years? Where we will interact with our customers in the future and what we need to know to prepare for that … You see, most of the companies tend to judge investment decisions about innovation in terms of their short-term gain, yet the true disruption might be just behind the horizon of yearly KPIs.
Thanks to our recent journey with Yord, I’m in the very biased position to tell what the winning horse in the next major race will be and the truth is, I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that we have a new platform that offers an immersive and superior experience, we have never witnessed before. It’s only up to you which direction you decide to look but remember, the best experience always wins (in every reality)…