Is “excellence” a word that would describe everything you or your business does or produces? If not, you are in danger of becoming a commodity, being stuck in the race to the bottom, and going extinct!
In fact, Tom Peters, in his new book The Excellence Dividend, believes that a mindset of excellence is the antidote to job automation and product “Commodityville”.
Early in my career there was an incident in our office when one of the junior engineers handed a proposal to his manager for a final review before sending the proposal to the customer. The manager basically came unglued and ripped apart the junior engineer after he found a spelling mistake . . . in the client’s name!
Excellence in your business is critical to business success and longevity. Without excellence your business becomes just another business in a sea of businesses. Without excellence your business will fade into mediocrity and commoditization . . . which is the race to extinction!
Conversely, excellence will differentiate you and your business. Excellence will open up opportunities and doors that are not available for the “generic masses.” The higher your level of excellence, the more business opportunities you will have!
How to Become Excellent
As technology advances and more and more products and services become commoditized, the only thing that separates one business from another is the customer experience.
Poor customer experience can easily destroy a business . . . If you don’t believe this, just ask United or American Airlines. One ugly incident can destroy the customer loyalty that has taken years to build!
Conversely, exceptional customer service can accelerate a business and its profitability to new heights!
What Experience Does Your Business Provide?
I recently switched things up and gave up my BMW car for the iconic F150 short box 4X4 pickup truck. Aside from the obvious complete change in driving performance and utility, I was taken back by the lack of customer experience offered by Ford in comparison to BMW. For example:
If you do not differentiate your business from your competitors, you are just another commodity! Being a commodity means that your products are no better than anyone else’s. This drives down your prices, erases profits, and eventually kills your business.
I wrote about what causes commoditization and how to avoid it in a post called Why Does Your Business Exist and Why Should We Care.
In this post Apple entered the MP3 market as a late comer. They were not the “first mover” and the market space already had a large number of competitors who competed on price. The market space was already commoditized.
Apple knew this but they understood that they could still dominate the space by clearly differentiating themselves from their competitors. They identified their key differentiators, measured themselves against their competitors, and realized that they were head and shoulders above the others. They entered the market and still dominate it today!
“That which costs little is less valued.” Miguel de Cervantes
In today’s world of hyper-connectedness and hyper-competition, it is really easy to yield to pressure and lower the prices for your products or services so that you can win the “super strategic” project or order. The problem with going down this road is that you now have set a new price expectation or ceiling on your prices. In effect, you have told the marketplace that your services or products are really not worth what you’ve been asking in the past.
A great example of this would be MP3 players versus iPhones or iPods. The first MP3 players sold at a premium because they were a new product with a new and growing market. But it wasn’t long before other electronics manufacturers saw the opportunity, created competing products and the price wars began. MP3 players had become a commodity.