“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
— Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft
The above quote from Bill Gates is inspirational and thought-provoking, and it got me to think about an event that occurred in 1997 or so that really helps drive that particular message home.
Back then Gates spoke at COMDEX and compared the PC industry to the auto industry. He said that the tech advancements and innovations in his industry were unlike any other. In part, he said that if the auto industry was like the PC industry, a “car would cost about $27.” Over the years, the small quip has taken on urban myth proportions. In fact, it led some to jokingly compare the two industries.
Someone even enhanced what Gates said charging that “If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000 mpg.”
Of course, auto industry defenders made up their own replies. Among the witty retorts, were:
• If the auto industry were like the PC business, cars would crash twice a day.
• You could only have one person in a car at a time, unless you bought Car95 or CarNT.
• The airbag system would ask “Are you sure?” before deploying.
• About once a month, your windshield would turn blue and you’d have to tow your car in for service.
There are many more on the list, and if you’ve spent time with PCs over the decades, you could probably come up with a few of your own.
What this partly true, partly urban legend story got me to thinking about was what consumers thought were the foibles of both industries. It points to how important it is to listen to the voice of the customer for the success of your company. When you’re doing something right, you get repeat and referral business. If you’re doing it wrong, customers tell you and everyone they know what happened, how you responded, and if there was a fix. If you’ve done your job well and listened, you made changes, and instead of getting negative feedback, once again, you get repeat and referral business. If you don’t listen, you could well lose customers or worse.
At Advantage, we listen. We inform every team of the importance of this, and make sure they regularly ask our clients how we are doing, and if we can do it better. It’s the best market research one can get, and at a very low cost. Over the years, BHPH dealers and finance professionals wanted more data and the ability to quickly analyze it. We understood, and discovered not only could we deliver on this, we could do even more. We developed a powerful dashboard that puts data at your fingertips, and incorporated AI in locating vehicles on demand, determining if they’ve crossed impound lots, and whether the vehicle may be used for ride sharing. Listening drives innovation.
Let me give you another example. Wireless GPS was a product that customers wanted and asked about. Five years ago, battery life wasn’t what it is today, and today, it’s not what it’s going to be tomorrow. Yet, as we began engineering our Revo wireless product line, we thought of creative, innovative ways to use software to extend battery life even longer. We were the first to have a fully self-powered, wireless GPS device that produces vast amounts of highly useful data.
Sometimes, customers don’t always know what they want or need. Steve Jobs was famous for saying that his job “is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do.” We do this as well. We ask ourselves what’s coming, what marketplace events have occurred that might change a dealer’s or finance company’s business model, and how can our automotive analytics can play a role. Innovation before they ask. Suffice it to say, we are working on innovations now, that will drive the market and turn heads in coming months.