Why be normal?

I have been critical of mediocre services for a little while now.  For the most part I have focussed on services that are available to us in our daily lives, for example our telecommunications services.  We often come across a press release or quote in a news service to the effect that XYZ company provides some service at a level that is comparable with what is being offered in some group of South American and Eastern European countries and that the objectionable quality of that service is therefore somehow justified.  No one seems willing to step up and go further than everyone else because, after all, if everyone else can make a profit by charging that amount for that service, why should anyone charge less for the same service and make less money?  To do that would be bad for business, right?  Shareholders would certainly not approve and the share price would drop and it would all be over!  Just ask Telkom.

The problem with this apparent culture of mediocrity is that there is very limited innovation and customers bear the brunt of it all because they pay higher prices for mediocre services.  Telkom long ago promised that it would become a customer-centric company and yet we still pay high prices for poor bandwidth and customer service.  A truly customer-centric company would place the needs of its customers ahead of its own.  That is what it means to be “customer-centric”.

This isn’t limited to the usual suspects.  What about the businesses you deal with?  What about your business?  Are they content to be average?  Are you? 

Be different.  Stand out in the crowd and offer an excellent service.  Do something to distinguish yourself from the mob and reap the rewards.  Seth Godin published a post to his blog recently where he advocates not being average.  Here is a little of what he says:

Say no to being average.

This morning, Bradley was explaining to me that it couldn’t work in his profession as a freelance writer. It seems that almost all the clients want average stuff. Which no surprise, since average is, by definition, the stuff most people want. I asked, “Are there any writers in your field who you hate because they get paid way too much compared to your perception of the effort they put in and the talent they have?”

“Sure,” he said, feeling a little sheepish about being annoyed by their success.

“And how do they get those gigs?”

It’s because they stand for something. Because they are at the edges. Because if an editor wants a ‘Bob-Jones-type’ article, she has to call Bob Jones for it… and pay Bob’s fees. Bob would fail if he did average work for average editors just to make a living. But by turning down the average stuff and insisting on standing for something on the edge, he profits. By challenging his clients to run stuff that makes them nervous (and then having them discover that it’s great), he profits.

Read the rest of the post here.

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