Scrolling through Facebook one Sunday afternoon – as one tends to do when avoiding work that needs to be done – I came across a shared photo that piqued my interest. It was a photo of a non-descript whiteboard with some statements written down regarding different major industries and companies that had changed the paradigm of those industries; companies like Apple, Air BnB, and Uber, that had utilized technology to carve out their place in the market and ultimately create their own success. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I am not one to go seeking wisdom amongst the annals and back-pages of Facebook. I think that if there is any place where you are likely to find actual “fake news”, chances are it will be on Facebook. But this photo – whose original source I couldn’t trace, as it had been shared numerous times and therefore forces me to simply paraphrase rather than share here without proper credit to the author – actually made me stop and think about the implications of its content. In essence, the photo – and the whiteboard it contained – said this:
‘Amazon did not kill the retail industry. The retail industry killed the retail industry with bad customer service.’
‘Uber did not kill the taxi industry. The taxi industry killed the taxi industry through fare control and limiting the number of taxis.’
‘Netflix did not kill Blockbuster and the film rental industry. Blockbuster killed Blockbuster through ridiculous late fees.’
There were more examples included, but I think you get the idea. After listing all of these different industries and the companies that disrupted those industries, there were two remaining sentences on the whiteboard, both written in a bold typeface and underlined for emphasis. They read:
‘Technology by itself is not the real disrupter…’
‘Being non-customer centric is the biggest threat to any business.’
Now, we can sit and argue all day about whether the retail industry or the taxi industry are actually dead, but that would be missing the whole point. What should really be the focus of our discussion is the nature of technology in business. More specifically, how the implementation of technology can fundamentally change not only your stance within an industry but also your relationship with customers and the nature of customer service. As the whiteboard said, it is not technology that is the real disrupter. Rather, it is businesses becoming non-customer centric that is the real threat. Businesses that lose sight of the customer and their relationship to the customer ultimately stand to lose the most. Whether you provide a service, a product, etc., the customer should always factor directly into that business equation you have constructed.
I think the overwhelming selling point for some time has been how technology can be incorporated to streamline a veterinary business model or make a veterinary clinic more efficient in how it runs and sells. But what about the customer? Yes, by utilizing technology in some form or another, you can deliver veterinary services to them faster, increase the total number of customers you can handle at one time, etc. There are myriad examples of that relationship between technology and growth. But what about the relationship between technology and the customer/customer service? Big companies like Uber, Apple, and Amazon disrupted their industries and rose to the top by implementing technology not for technology’s sake, but by using technology to distribute a service or product in an entirely customer-centric format. What I’m ultimately trying to do here is change the way we approach technology from a veterinary business standpoint. Let’s not ignore all of the ways technology can improve a veterinary hospital and how it operates internally. But let’s shift our paradigm slightly, and begin to approach technology from a customer-centric angle. When we look at new technology, the thought shouldn’t only be “How will this new technology help my practice grow?” What should be included in our thought process is “How does this technology make me more customer-centric?” Or, “How could this technology improve my customer’s experience?”
As I’ve said on this blog in the past, it is always good to take some time to take stock of your place in the world; to take stock of where your business stands and review where adjustments could be made. A certain level of self-awareness as it relates to business can make all the difference. So, in that vein of thought, I think it is high time we take that approach to technology and business. Take the time to assess how you can become more customer-centric. Perhaps, the answers might surprise you.
EasyDVM Practice Software is a cloud-based veterinary practice management software system. We pride ourselves in offering a system that is user-friendly, easy to learn for new team members, full-featured and elegant in its simplicity. Best of all, all devices, multiple users, all your clients and patients, always affordable.