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The essence of what companies do is make people happy by providing solutions to their problems


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Tried & true - "Market leadership is built and sustained only when customers are content enough with a business' products or services that they don't want to go elsewhere to have their needs met. No company, big or small, one century or one year old, will succeed if it doesn't make users and customers happy."

There are plenty of successful companies with lots of unhappy customers: Comcast. AT&T. De Beers. Monsanto. Philip Morris. Bank of America. Just about every Health Insurance company.

Google, Amazon, and Facebook have discovered that you can make customers unhappy by violating their privacy as long as you apologize whenever you get caught.

Grrr, don't get me started - I agree with you.

Eventually these companies die a long slow death?! Dinosaurs that become extinct; disrupted by startups with better vision, better understanding of customer needs, etc...

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but at one point in time, most of these companies were *probably* delighting their customers on some level - albeit decades ago.

And unhappy customers eventually switch and go to the competition, a company that they can be happy with, ostensibly.

I think there are different facets of success in this case: are we talking shareholder value (Wall Street) or what the customer/user values?

"Delighting customers doesn’t build loyalty; reducing their effort — the work they must do to get their problem solved — does."

Source: http://hbr.org/2010/07/stop-trying-to-delight-your-customers

Just going by your list: Comcast. AT&T. Bank of America. Just about every Health Insurance company... Each of these gain/keep their power from government protection, either via specific easements like the telecoms' local monopolies, or by a prohibitive and regulated barrier of entry, like banks and insurance companies. Phillip Morris, Monsanto, and DeBeers control, or are part of a cabal which control platform distribution for their market.

In NONE of these companies, are natural persons the actual customer, except perhaps Phillip Morris, which relies upon good old fashioned biochemical addiction.

None of these companies have genuine competition, so they treat their customer base as captive mercantile colonies; no longer customers, but instead the product to be cultivated. That's a good position to be in, if you're the company... and worth emulating, which Google, Amazon, and Facebook do.

Amazon does so by gaining actual power over platform distribution (AWS included), whereas Google and Facebook bypass being middlemen and cultivate their markets by successfully convincing those markets that they are the customers with loss leaders such as search engines and web apps.

I know I'm segueing outside of the scope the article, but elaborating a bit on my previous point. Each of the companies you mention, Adam, benefit from a barrier to entry brought on by government regulation, specifically a bureaucratic requirement which must be satisfied BEFORE you can even discover your MVP.

No one can start a cable company without convincing local franchise boards to drop their existing contractors.

No one can get into the diamond mining business without having your mine declared a source of blood diamonds by the DeBeers monopoly and their friends at the UN (yes i know it's more complex than that, but not by much)

No one can start a health insurance company, or a bank, or a agri-chemical company without complying with thousand of pages of regulation and appeasing the lords of dozens if not hundreds of bureaucratic fiefdoms.

And it's occurred to me that it is simply the requirement that permission must be asked before conducting certain types of business that pose the most difficult barrier to entry and immediately and permanently alter the relationship between a company and it's customers. Your customers no longer decide what your minimum viable product is, the regulator does, and the viability equation adds a whole other dimension to the calculus, with two distinct entities given fickle kill switches on your product.

And this hits home for me, since my startup plays in a regulated market. I know how to build a kick ass platform to make possible what I want to make possible. I know who to go to and who to partner with to fill in the nails and screws of that platform. And I know what hoops I need to jump through to please the myriad of bureaucrats. But since the road to viability ALWAYS requires tweaking and pivoting in response to customers' needs, I actually have to plan, in advance, in order to please the bureaucrats, and at greater expense than I would spend otherwise, a significant subset quantity of these permutations.

That friggin sucks. Stupid Government. (Not stopping me though.)

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