Settling for adequate

Last week, someone said to me “What we’re getting is adequate.”


This *wasn’t* a phone call where someone was trying to get rid of me (I don’t cold call).

It was just a conversation about a product and service that someone was getting from a vendor – and in a market where quality varies widely.

Think about that for a minute. A customer’s expectations have been dulled to the point where quality – once they’ve reached whatever “acceptable” means – is no longer a consideration.

Some additional info:

  • I know the vendor involved.
  • I know this vendor is “only” average in that marketplace. Not bad, just…average.
  • I know that the increase in cost from adequate to “kicks butt and takes names” in this market is pretty low.

Yet the customer is willing to settle, even though the difference in quality would benefit them both financially and otherwise.

If you run into these kinds of things, you have two choices: try to change their mind or move along and seek out those customers who have higher expectations.

Changing people’s minds is a tall mountain. You’ll have to judge the ROI of that effort for yourself. Until you have no choice, I suggest you start by looking for customers who aren’t willing to settle. Be the vendor who thrills those customers. That’s where the fun and the money are.

When you run out of them, you can start changing minds.

2 replies on “Settling for adequate”

  1. It certainly is frustrating. And it leads to a decrease in service quality across the board.
    Not quite the same, but related: My 8th grade son has been an excellent student for several years, the last 2 years ranking 1st in his class. This year his grades have dropped considerably, and I see little effort on his part to improve. While still passable, they just aren’t what they used to be.

    Talking to him about it, he says that he doesn’t understand why he should work so hard to do better, when he sees so many other students making passing grades for sub-par work.

    It’s the same in business – when clients accept ‘adequate’ performance, before long, outstanding companies lose the urge to work harder and do better.

  2. To me this is an issue for the provider. If you have customers that see you as adequate you will keep customers based on inertia. But you have several big issues. Attempts to increase price are very likely to lead to increased customer losses (than if customers are delighted). And others trying to win the customers business only have to overcome inertia – which can be very low hurdle (saving a small bit of money, some minor additional feature). If your customers are delighted they won’t leave (by and large) without significant reasons to. And you have very little leeway for error. If you cause them some problem (which granted, hopefully you won’t but if you do) they are not likely to be forgiving. Again if they are delighted they may well stay even if you have a delay, provide less than stellar customer service for some request…

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