In the WWDC announcements earlier this week, Apple revealed that their voice recognition AI, Siri, will be made available on desktop. But the bigger news is that Siri is to be opened up to third-party developers to enable users to access third-party apps through Siri commands. This news has been met with varying opinions, but the loudest appears to be that Apple are falling behind when it comes to beating competitors to the punch. However, I am not so sure that this is true.
Too little, too late?
The popular opinion seems to be that Apple is having trouble keeping up with their competitors. Cortana was opened to third-party developers over two years ago, whilst Amazon’s assistant AI, Alexa, was released to developers almost a year ago – with the added incentive of a development fund for innovative uses of the software. Google appeared to be slightly late to the party, releasing their software only last month, so is Apple playing catch-up?
Amazon, and Google already have stand-alone devices on the market, powered by their AI assistants, all released over the past two years, whilst Apple have only recently announced that they are developing their own stand-alone command centre for homes
The CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence and Washington university professor, Oren Etzioni, has said “Is it too little too late? Siri is five years old and still trying to learn how to play well with others.” (source)
Watching your competitors is one way of making sure that your products are relevant, but a much more effective method, is listening to your customers. If you are hearing your customer’s demands and working to make them happy, you don’t need to concern yourself with what your competitors are doing.
Apple have long proven that they are innovators, releasing amazing product, after amazing product, they refine their software and products based on the feedback they receive from their customers, which eliminates the need to copy what Amazon and Google are doing.
Although the announcement is still fairly new, Apple have been developing their stand-alone product since before Amazon Echo was released, taking the time to make sure that they are delivering a product that their customers actually want.
This is the best approach to handling competitors as it ensures that they are delivering products that their customers will want to buy. “A lot of our customers have told us they would love…” is a phrase that featured in many of their announcements, for example.
When developing my own services and brand, I made the conscious decision to stop watching my competitor’s every move to make sure that I was in line with them. I can see why people would ask how I could be sure that my business was relevant, if I didn’t know what my competitors were doing. To be honest, I didn’t know whether my products were on par with those of my biggest rivals, what I did know was that my products matched what my customers wanted and answered their needs.
By asking the right questions and using the information our customers provided, we were armed with all of the knowledge we needed about our market. Our customers didn’t want imitations of existing products – they were looking for innovation which answered their calls.
Whilst you are busy ignoring your competition and paving the way for satisfied customers yourself, there are a three key things to avoid:
- Don’t give your competitors bad press, focus on your business, your innovation and keeping your customers satisfied and the rest will fall into place
- Don’t assume that customers will fall into your lap; amazing products come with an amazing brand and maintaining world-class customer service will endear your customers to you even more.
- Don’t price higher just because you can. Fair prices make everybody happy. Don’t be tempted to price too low, you still need to make a profit. On the other hand, do not fall into the mind-set that you can charge the earth just because you meet the customer’s needs better – many people will be tempted to accept lesser value for a more affordable product.
Remember that happy customers are the key ingredient in great business. Exceptional customer service, products which push all the right buttons, and prices which match your target market’s lifestyle will lead to better reviews and an increase in word-of-mouth marketing. Happy customers will lead to more customers. Increased trust in your brand leads to increased profits, and better quality of feedback, leads to better quality products, fuelling the cycle once again.