poor customer service drives competition

How bad customer service actually drives competition

I went on vacation last week. It was lovely. Thanks for asking.

My wife and I escaped without children to beautiful, sunny and hot Mexico. A couple of things got me thinking about how some companies are their own worst enemies.

Uber is on the verge of launching in Playa Del Carmen, the taxi drivers have got all kinds of signs protesting at Uber’s imminent arrival. But let’s look at the taxi drivers in Playa Del Carmen, they are universally acknowledged as an impolite, at times dishonest bunch of individuals who over charge tourists given any opportunity or often just give the incorrect change.

Many entrepreneurs stress the need for an innovative product to develop your niche in business. While the concept of Uber is quite brilliant, ultimately it seems its success in many markets is due to the existing taxi service being decidedly customer unfriendly. All said and done, they’re just drivers, nothing innovative there. Or is there?

Look at Zappos, they sell shoes online but they sell themselves as a customer service company that happens to have shoes for sale. Check this link out for some of their spectacular stories of customer service.

OK, enough of shoes, back to my vacation.  Flying out of Toronto on Air Canada the airport experience begins. I think the airlines know that they offer appalling customer service because nowadays the passenger has a self service kiosk. Think about it, self service kiosks, ATM’s, they’re all there to avoid customer contact, self SERVICE kiosks, you give yourself customer service. One notable exception in the Canadian market is Westjet who pride themselves on their customer service.

This article actually says they started out as a “challenger brand”. This article  offers up some Zappos like customer service stories.

We’ve all read the travel industry horror stories. At the time I just blithely accepted the $50 fee for two pieces of checked luggage but what a ridiculous way to get an extra $50 out of your customer at the airport.

For those of you who don’t know, Air Canada is also recognized for its customer service record.

Rogers has happily accepted a massive share of the telecoms market from Bell Canada.

I could go on.

Many of these competitors only thrived because the first guy in to the market dropped the ball. They essentially offered the same service or product but added value with the customer experience.

I’ll be using Uber next time I go to Mexico and I don’t care how many surly taxi drivers are upset.