Your new competition

Quick. Take 30 seconds and list your main competitors.

(don’t worry, I’ll wait)



Sorry, but your list is wrong.

Unless of course, you listed Zappos, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Trader Joe’s, Wegman’s, Netflix, The Container Store and Apple.

Your customers are doing business with these companies, who are constantly raising the bar on engagement and customer delight.

Every time your customer’s online order arrives earlier than expected from Zappos…

Every time your customer chuckles at a Southwest flight attendant who weaves humor into the emergency exit script…

Every time your customer feels a human connection with a checker in line at Trader Joe’s…

Every time your customer is glad that there are so many helpful colored shirts at the Apple Store…

It’s happening right now. Your customers are experiencing this kind of interaction (notice I didn’t say transaction) today.

The bar has been raised.

What are you going to do?

12 thoughts on “Your new competition”

  1. Hey, Karim! It's amazing to me that the people running other organizations experience this raised bar as well and so many choose not to improve their own customer experience.

    Thanks for the comment.

  2. Still nodding my head Clay. Your best post this year.

    On a positive note, I think it opens a huge opportunity for those that are not in direct competition with these companies. Our customers may not expect it from us or anyone in our industry, but if we aspire to be remarkable (like Zappos, Apple, etc) then we have a HUGE advantage over those that we compete with directly.

    Lesson: Don't worry about comparing apples to apples. Just compare yourself to Apple. :-)

  3. Thanks so much, Tim. I'm humbled.

    You're exactly right. There is a huge opportunity on the table for anyone to delight customers better than their direct competition.

    I love the "just compare yourself to Apple" quote!

    1. Awesome. And Linchpin (out today) and Switch, the new one from Chip & Dan Heath are also both amazing books. I think Linchpin will change the world. Definitely pick it up.

  4. Hey Clay,

    I like your post alot but I think the 'who is your competition" question is one that comes out the playbook of the schools of conventional – 20th century- thinking (which is deteriorating daily). Typically in business the main strategy for 'competitive edge' was doing what everyone else was doing but only better, cheaper or faster. I'm willing to bet that the individuals behind these companies got started because they had a passion about what they did (which I am sure you are well aware of) and didn't ask themselves 'who's my competition'. They simply did the long arduous work of developing a company out of something they loved and people followed them because of that love. When you take on a "who is my competition" mindset you only see what others are doing vs. what's the possibilities. This is where innovation is and where breakthrough ideas happen (and what we desperately need in today's market). No one was converging design and hardware before Apple. So if we should "just compare ourselves to Apple", then we should do something that's not being done. If this becomes your orientation then "who's your competition" becomes an irrelevant question.

  5. Great post Clay! I'm with Tim – with my new business, I have been asking myself lately, "What would Apple do?" or "What would (Steve) Jobs do?" Apple is a great role model no matter the size of your business; especially when it comes to competing/competition.

    Example: Do I talk to potential clients about our video idea, or do I keep it under my hat for a while? When looking at Apple, I keep it under wraps for a while. Although the product is something I want to jump on now, taking it slow and having patience is key. This helps us build up what we have and hopefully be at least one year ahead of our competition. Then we'll release and strike.

    Your post shows how the market and society is changing or has changed – personal interaction is loyalty gold, not enough companies do it. This way of doing business is slowly becoming mainstream, we may have technology to thank for it. Human interaction is now something we crave, getting back to the days before e-mail, Twitter and Facebook. Knitting, DIY projects, and handcrafted goods have made a great comeback because of it.

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