Do you know who you are competing with? You need to think bigger.

Here’s one question that comes up regularly: Is a company’s customer service competing with their direct competition or others as well?

Many years ago, I took a class in Quality Customer Service at the Disney Institute in Orlando. In one activity, they asked attendees to make a list of all of Disney’s competition. As you might expect, most people had included other theme parks like Universal, Six Flags, King’s Island, Busch Gardens, and Knott’s Berry Farm. However, those lists were nothing compared to the list the instructors unveiled.

The Disney list contained just about every possible entertainment option you could think of. I remember things like movies, sporting events, TV, theater, museums, music, books, and just about anything else on which people might spend their money as a diversion from day-to-day life.

You see, Disney thinks big. They see every possible alternative to what they offer as a potential competitor, and this is wise. In this connected world where our every utterance can be seen by someone, your business, like Disney’s, is being compared to the last great thing people experienced which could be something quite distant from whatever it is you offer. To limit your view to only your direct competitors is foolhardy. You will miss so many opportunities as well as ideas for innovation. Learning about things outside your industry can be the seeds of creativity that would have never even occurred by looking at others who do what you do.

So, to answer the question posed above, you are competing with much more than the businesses who do what you do, you are competing with the last best thing your customers experienced.  Who knows, that could be Disney, so you best step up your game because they set the standard when it comes to service and attention to detail.

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