Think about how frustrated you were the last time you waited for your cable guy to show up, or how annoyed you got when you settled into the back of a cab, only to have the driver tell you he wouldn’t take a credit a card. What about the time you had to pay a hefty fee for the right to text and use data on your smartphone outside of the country?

These scenarios are probably all too familiar to many of you.

The good news for consumers is that these frustrations have been addressed by various startups (or existing businesses with better ideas) in recent years. These companies recognized that incumbent industries were responding to their own operational requirements, instead of their customers’ needs. When these newer businesses came along, they were able to take advantage of customer disaffection and grab gobs of market share, while shaking their competitors to their very foundations.

Getting Eaten By Innovators

Innovation has a funny way of wreaking havoc on markets where once-dominant industries are suddenly forced to compete for business.

Very often, however, these companies have taken customers for granted, having controlled the market for so long. When a disruptive agent enters the scene, customers happily flock to the alternative, leaving the incumbents struggling to play catch-up on multiple levels.

Every sector is bound to be affected at some point as a technological tidal wave driven by the internet, mobile and cheap cloud resources drives sweeping changes across industries.

If you haven’t been focused on your customers, you are particularly vulnerable when these changes come because they have no motivation to be loyal to you.

The Beauty Of Competition

Cable companies are a prime example of a municipal monopoly, which hasn’t had much reason to be concerned about their customers up until now. Back in the 80s and 90s, when cable markets were being established, they competed for municipalities, rather than individual consumers. Once a company was awarded a town or area, it was theirs forever, a veritable fiefdom.

If you haven’t been focused on your customers, you are particularly vulnerable when these changes come because they have no motivation to be loyal to you.

With little or no competitive pressure, getting customers was like shooting fish in a barrel. Once it had them, there was little incentive to respond to problems or lower prices. What were you going to do, go to the other cable company?

That has led to consumer frustration and as these companies get bigger and bigger, they have become more focused on protecting their turf than maintaining happy customers.

Look at the cloud infrastructure providers for a good example of what happens when there is healthy competition in an open market. There are a wide range of large and small vendors competing for business including the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, Google, IBM and a host of others. Just recently Alibaba announced it was investing a billion dollars to become a player in this market. All of this means these companies are competing hard on price, the breadth of their offerings and how they treat their customers.

It has forced down prices and led to ever-increasing innovation in an ongoing effort to win and keep business. Plus, when you add the notion of subscriptions, where customers can switch among providers fairly easily, it really forces companies to focus on clients.

In industries like cable with less competition, the motivation is lacking and that usually results in poorer customer service. Click here to read the full article