Expectations Shifted

earbudsI find it sad when a great business story ends in failure or irreparable decline because its leaders didn’t pay close attention to today’s consumers and trends in the marketplace. Think Blockbuster and Borders. Think Dell and Sprint. Here are some of my recent experiences that may have implications for the future of your service, product or business….that is, if you can read the signs.

  • Have you had a service experience at a brick-and-mortar Apple Store?  My wife’s headphones that were at least two years old developed a short in the wire.  Five minutes after she entered the store, she left with a new pair at no charge, a smiling, satisfied customer.
  • Are you a TED Talks fan? I have come to appreciate their stripped-down approach that gets to the heart of the subject quickly. No introductions, no fanfare, just a few relevant slides. Recently I was at a conference and noticed that the traditional, lengthy speaker introduction had me unenthused even before the presenter took the stage. The ensuing PowerPoint overload didn’t help redirect my thought of “Why am I not at home watching a TED Talks in the comfort of my reading chair?”
  • Have you done any shopping at Zappos.com?  Find exactly what you want, or order multiple sizes and colors, and return what you don’t want. They set the gold standard of online service: 24/7 customer service, free shipping both ways, and a 365-day return policy. No questions, no hassles.
  • After returning to a home improvement store three times in an effort to replace a bathroom fan, it finally dawned on me that I could have made the purchase on Amazon.com. And by taking advantage of Amazon Prime, I get free, two-day shipping, no matter how small the order, as just one of its many benefits.

Clothing, electronics, household goods, gifts and of course, books. As consumers, our expectations have shifted. Whether it is convenience, customer service or ease-of-use, I am convinced that for many of us the future has already happened.

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