The cowboy song by Rhett Akins, “That Ain’t My Truck,” where he discovers his girl has left him for another guy, reminds me of the anti-incumbency bias occurring in today’s global services marketplace. What’s causing clients’ infidelity to their incumbent providers?
I believe many incumbent service providers find themselves displaced today because of three factors.
- Services that clients once viewed as value are now just a commodity. Almost all services commoditize over time. And at that point a service that was once a differentiation of the provider no longer is different from other providers’ offerings.
- Client and provider interests become unaligned. When interests aren’t aligned, the client comes to believe the provider delivers services in a manner that benefits itself rather than working for the client’s benefit.
- The service provider takes the relationship for granted and the customer sees it increasingly as day-to-day business. Figuratively speaking, the provider forgets to bring roses. I’ve blogged before about this relationship phenomenon where clients tell Everest Group they get no innovation (continual added value) from their providers.
Incumbent providers should keep in mind that Taco Bell is not fine dining and a trip to Galveston is not the same as a trip the south of France. Just as with relationships between men and women, commercial relationships also need forward momentum. Without making an effort to build a deeper relationship, it will go stale or even go backward. Management changes and employee turnover in the provider organization aggravate this situation.
Clients now have a variety of options when it comes to service providers. Incumbent providers that don’t want to find their clients with another provider’s “truck” are wise to focus on the above three factors.
Also see our complimentary viewpoint, Rising Anti-Incumbency in Outsourcing: Breaking Up Is Not Hard to Do.
Photo credit: Don O’Brien