If Your Business Disappears, Will People Care?

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You may think your customers care about your company. But what if your business disappears tomorrow? Will they care? Find out how to become irreplaceable.

This is a strange question for people, as most of us operate in fields where dozens of competitors are greedily licking their chops to get at our clients. I’ve wondered that if my business disappears tomorrow, how would people react? How vital has my business become to theirs? It’s not because I hope they break down in tears at my departure, but it helps me judge how loyal they are. The more important you are to your customer, the less likely they are to switch providers, or drop the hammer when you screw up.

If you can’t think of any compelling reasons a customer to miss you, it’s a good chance your business is one screw up from being replaced. My experience in dropping the ball has shown that people have a scale of value that they place you on. This is like a personal relationship, where depending on how much you matter, they will respond differently to problems. Depending on how much they ‘like’ you, there’s a better chance your imperfections will get overlooked.

The Scale of Value!

or: what customer’s think for when things go wrong:

  • Broken – Screw up and I’m gone
  • Fragile – Fix it now or I’m calling your competition
  • Hesitant – Let’s get through this, but it might be our last project
  • Supporter – We’ll have to chat before starting a new project together
  • Advocate – Let’s work through this together and improve the process

I only use screwing up as an example because just like in personal relationship, strain will show what people really think of you. The real question is how to build more advocates for your business and strengthen the strained relationships.

So, how do we become less replaceable?

Most of us are replaceable at some expense, you just want that leap to be as difficult as possible. Not to be a jerk, but because you want your service to be so valuable that nobody can compare. The harder the transition, the more loyal they will be, and it’s not just a matter of vital products or services. Sometimes it’s a relationship that people have formed; an emotional bond between people within the company that people will fight for. Believe me, it’s much harder to fire a friend then to drop a faceless organization.
If the only reason people work with you is price, you’re a nickel away from being replaced.

This is a typical client interview for building content:

Me: Why do customers pick you?
Them: Because we give great, high quality service.
Me: I’m sure your competitors say the same things, so why don’t they go with someone else?
Them: Well I know them well.
Me: Why does that matter?
Them: When they call, I already know their business and I can move quickly.
Me: So, it might not have anything to do with the product, but how you understand their needs and can be responsive to their business?
Them: Yeah, I suppose that makes sense.

When you ask questions deep enough, you’ll discover that why you really matter is likely more significant than just your product or service.

What are some ways we can matter more to our customers?


I’ve worked with a lot of oilfield and construction companies who are more then willing to call up one of their competitors and ask for help if they are over capacity. It may seem counter intuitive, but if they’re committing to getting a project and a timeline, they will do whatever it takes to get the job done. How far would you go to keep your promises? Is it further than other people will go?


These are some of the strongest ties you can have with a company. I’ve seen many businesses thrive on handshakes with old friends, but eventually everyone retires or moves on, and then you have to make sure that business relationship doesn’t drop as well. Be proactive in building relationships with decision makers, because friends will give you the first crack at their business and a second chance if you mess up. How many clients do you have that would be up for a beer after work?



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