The only thing constant in life is change.
This is true regardless of what we look at. Nature is always changing. Grass and flowers grow, die and then regrow.
Scientists say the cells in our bodies are completely replaced every seven years!
And this is particularly true in business.
That which had you stand apart, was your competitive advantage yesterday, is often no longer what your customers value from you today.
The article to the right was in The Toronto Star announcing Research in Motion (RIM), the manufacturer of blackberry phones, is cutting 2,000 jobs.
But wait a minute – isn’t RIM one of the leading edge companies of the internet age?
Well, yes and now no!
RIM’s competitive advantage has been email encryption. In other words, emails sent using a blackberry are protected from being intercepted or read.
For many companies this has been an important feature enabling their team to communicate freely without worrying that proprietary information could be leaked.
And several of my friends have been blackberry fans because of blackberry messaging (BBM) which is free texting and connecting between blackberries worldwide.
Cool stuff! Increased enterprise communication (and hopefully efficiency!).
So what happened? Apple is what happened!
Apple has done a brilliant job of developing technology and gadgets that people rave about and can’t image doing without – touch screen, apps, music, pictures, and easy internet access.
And now Google is joining the game. Google+ lets you message groups of people at the same time – oh and its free! An app on your iPhone or Android and away you go!
Suddenly friends that have been devout blackberry users for years are getting iPhones.
Even the RIM Playbook seems like a late response to the iPad.
So what went wrong?
Well I don’t think RIM is out for the count. There are some very smart people running the company, but I do think they are starting a shake up!
If I had Jim Balsillie or Mike Lazaridis’s (the co-CEO’s of RIM) ear I would be recommending identifying and talking to their target audience customers.
Who are they? What do they want? What are their challenges? How are they using RIM’s technology in an innovative way?
This is the Key to the Vault Secret – if you are listening your customers will always tell you what they want! And solving your customers’ needs is your opportunity for growth (and innovation).
But you have to pay attention to the message they are communicating as well as the words they are using, and this is what most businesses miss.
We spend an entire Module in the Profit Generator Program on Tapping into Customer Feedback. The moment you understand this you unlock unlimited opportunity in your business!
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All growth happens on the shoulders of what you have accomplished in the past.
In other words, the seeds of your growth are already present in your business today. The challenge is that we usually miss seeing them in our own business – it is just part of how we do business.
However, your customers see what you do and what you offer from what’s in it for them. If you listen, they are always telling you what they want, what is important and (just as crucial) what is missing.
Tip: with your team, keep a journal (possibly by the cash register if a brick and mortar business) and capture your customers comments, questions and complaints. Start asking “What are they communicating that is important to them?”
Have a regular innovation meeting and discuss customer feedback and comments and apply to your business, your products and your services.
Ten years ago blackberries were the latest, greatest things. Now RIM has to either innovate or die.
What areas of your business should you be innovating? What are your customers saying?
Post your comments below…