I needed help from a major company that I have done business with for years. They have always provided the highest level of service. When the virus hit, this wonderful company struggled to continue the high-quality service upon which they had built their reputation. It wasn’t their fault. The changes the virus imposed made it impossible for them to function normally. So, they struggled along and did the best they could and as a customer, I accepted the new normal. After all, “we were all in this together.”
Now it is late 2021 and the virus remains with us, but our approach to it has changed. Humans are great at adapting and yesterday’s unbearable risk becomes today’s normal life. We move on. As we have adjusted to our changed world, I see a new opportunity arise for investors. This column is written to investors, but also directed at the companies who want to attract their dollars.
Recently I called the company mentioned above and was bounced around for more than 20 minutes without getting an answer. Two years ago, this would have been completely unacceptable for this firm. As my frustration became apparent, the person on the phone commented about how sorry they were but “due to the virus situation,” they were working with limited staff and resources. I must say I have heard that excuse for 20 months and quite frankly, I am tired of it. I am tired of contractors, fast food restaurants, accounting firms, car dealerships and every other business blaming their lack of service on the virus. It has become the universal excuse for not doing a good job. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying they are lying about their challenges. We all know businesses are struggling with labor problems, supply shortages and health issues. I am only saying I am personally tired of “hearing” the excuse.
An important principle of business is that if you are having a negative, or positive, experience with a business, it is likely other customers are having the same. Using your personal experience can be a valuable tool for assessing an investment opportunity. Great businesses know this, and it is why they strive to make every customer experience positive. So, if you are tired of hearing businesses blame their bad service on the virus, many others are tired of it too. Again, it doesn’t mean they are not being truthful, but it does mean companies that move on from this excuse have an opportunity to stand out.
The economic tragedy of the covid virus may turn into an opportunity as it will give the greatest companies the chance to rise up and provide great products and services in spite of it. To investors I say, seek out businesses that stop blaming the virus for their bad service, whether it is justified or not. To businesses I say, recognize that your customers are tired of the virus excuse, so stop using it and you will stand out. In our office we will be searching for these industry leading companies.