The other day I stumbled upon a LinkedIn post about disruptors by Alberto Brea, executive director of engagement planning at OgilvyOne Worldwide. It said:
“Amazon did not kill the retail industry. They did it to themselves with bad customer service.
Netflix did not kill Blockbuster. They did it to themselves with ridiculous late fees.
Uber did not kill the taxi business. They did it to themselves (by limiting the number of taxis with) fare control.
Apple did not kill the music industry. They did it to themselves by forcing people to buy full-length albums.
Airbnb did not kill the hotel industry. They did it to themselves with limited availability and pricing options.
Technology by itself is not the real disruptor.
Being non-customer centric is the biggest threat to any business.
Of course, these are broad statements, and there are many exceptions.”
But Rion Morgenstern, CEO of Pleasant Mattress, offered a different perspective on disruptors in a recent issue of Furniture Today.
He said, “In every market there is always a disruptor. At one point, Bonnell innerspring mattresses were a disruptor of horsehair and hay-stuffed beds.”
So are disruptors crucial to business or are we blaming our problems on brands and companies who do things better?
DISRUPTORS AREN’T REAL
Brea’s statement stuck me as a valid argument that disruptors are simply something to blame a problem or failure on.
However, I think his statement says more about customer service than disruptors, which is a good view to have.
More often than not, reliable and helpful customer service helps brands win. It shows that your company cares about its customers, which helps the customer feel more connected and loyal to your brand.
If you think about disruptors and losing business because of them, you’ll worry your business to death. You need to put a greater focus on how your business can connect with people.
You don’t necessarily need to be bigger or wealthier than the competition; you just need to be different.
DISRUPTION IS NECESSARY
While I agree with Brea’s statement, I think Morgenstern presents a solid point as well. Disruptors are a natural part of business and can be necessary to the innovation process.
It’s like the idea of natural selection: Those who are strong and savvy will survive. The reason the innerspring mattress disrupted and eventually replaced horsehair and hay-stuffed beds is because it’s a superior product people favored.
Amazon is obviously one of the most well-known disruptors, and look what it’s done for businesses everywhere. Amazon came in with reliable e-commerce that shook the world. Now nearly everyone is involved with e-commerce, and companies who’ve embraced it are winning over those who neglect it.
But without Amazon’s disruption, e-commerce may never have had the popularity and potential for all business as it does today.
A LITTLE OF BOTH
I agree with both points of view, and I think businesses need to consider a little of both.
Disruptors are as real as you make them, but customer service, quality products and innovative ideas always need to be the focus.
And remember that disruptors are not always bad. Sometimes they lead to the next big thing. Your company may even be a disruptor someday.
No matter what disruptors emerge in the coming years, the key to coming out on top is watching what happens, listening to what people are saying and using this information to make your business remarkably different.