The landlady called last night – Prepared for funding?

The landlady called last night

I live in East London. On it, where it’s happening, tech town (at least that’s what us East Londoners believe). The property comes with a small, secluded garden with a micro-patch of grass which requires a mow from time to time. If it was mine, I’d install tech grass but not sure the landlady would approve.

Last week the plastic blades snapped on my hovver mower. You can guess the brand. On closer inspection I discovered the blades were a replaceable unit so I went online for the parts. A search led to the manufacturer’s website and quickly to 10 blades for £10.95. Registered quickly. Went to shopping cart. And that’s where the wheels fell off. Ten days to deliver. Knee-high grass and the landlady’s imminent annual inspection won’t wait that long. Crisis.

Ten days! Does anyone seriously believe that’s a viable business proposition? Clearly the poor manufacturer does.

More fundamentally, who at a senior level is thinking about this service and reputation stuff? Sure, it’s only a bit part of the business and probably doesn’t merit attention. But it does. Even more so because the scruffy experience is so far out of line with today’s customer expectations, it undermines what is otherwise a great product. Here’s the unintended message from its leaders: our blades break frequently but we don’t really care: we’ve made our money from selling you the machine. Here’s a half-hearted, lazy fix. We couldn’t be bovvered.

Route two. Go to Amazon. Enter brand name and part number. Choose from three vendors and three pack sizes. (Do people really break blades that frequently?) Choose the six quid offer. Select speedy delivery. Three-click checkout. Mow lawn next day. Job done.

Now here is a company that dominates its space. It knows what business it’s in. Understands its role. Much derided for not making money, Amazon has turned the corner and created a global giant, unassailable in its space. They also just registered their eighth consecutive quarter of revenue growth. An Amazon that both knows what it’s doing and makes money is a scary animal. Why has the share price increased by 40% in the last year? Ultra-happy customers.

So here’s a message to those raising money. Know what market you are in. Get super-close to the customer. Give her exactly what she wants, as close to now as possible. Put simply, getting and keeping customers has to be understood at a deep level and in great detail. Lack of clarity around this whole route to market issue is the would-be investor’s number one gripe.

Nobody is saying it’s easy (arguably even Amazon took longer then they should) but if you are serious about getting funded, know your customer like your best friend and show you can open their wallet at will. Oh, and be convincing.

Last night the landlady came round for a red wine and an informal inspection and thought the lawn looked immaculate. Another glass Eleanor? Thank you Amazon.


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