When Strategy Fails: We Focus on Eliminating Pain Points

When Strategy Fails is a periodic point of view on common trends, missteps, and miscalculations companies across industries and growth trajectories make in relation to their long-term strategy and execution. These are broad reflections and anecdotes from years of working in business strategy and digital transformation, and are not specific to any individual client or industry. Follow along with this series to uncover some overarching themes and common fallacies, and how to potentially combat them at your organization.

When Strategy Fails: We focus on eliminating pain points

According to Forbes, 89% of companies today compete today on customer experience. Yet, most companies focus almost all of their time, energy, and investments on reducing friction and solving for key customer pain points. And of course, fixing broken experiences is incredibly important. But if all you ever do is try not to be bad, you will be unremarkable – and forgotten. 

Imagine a friend mentioning a new restaurant she went to (back when that was a thing). If she said “We had a nice time…nothing bad happened,” would you be eager to add this restaurant to your list? Would the owner be pleased with this review? Probably not, because very few brands strive to only be free of catastrophes. Unless you’re a budget airline. But maybe not even then.

Fixing pain points is easy because you already know the problem you’re trying to solve. If a company knows it is losing customers or customer satisfaction because a process, product, or service is lacking or broken, they should probably correct it. There’s little risk there. Think of your favorite brands and products. Are they simply just hiccup-free or do they provide you additional value? Joy, convenience, simplicity, comfort, guidance, etc? Eliminating pain points is important, but it’s just the price of admission.

Henry Ford is credited with saying, ‘if I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.’ Fixing what a customer tells you is broken is a faster horse. And faster horses have value. But they’re not enough to survive. 

If roughly 89% of your rivals are also competing on customer experience, then your company must develop cars, or motorcycles, or drones, or electric scooters, in conjunction with your faster horses. That way, when part of the market needs more than a faster horse, you’re there waiting with open arms. Because fast horses didn’t disappear altogether, they just lost much of their relevance for transportation.