Most of us have now become familiar with the popular slogan of ‘too big to fail’. However, have you ever heard the phrase ‘too big to care’? Thankfully Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider and home internet service provider, provides an exemplary case study in this new and often disheartening phenomenon.
The success of Comcast’s dominance over market share as a cable operator can be accredited to a company that not only knew how to address the desires of its customers, but was innovative enough to define those desires that essentially created demand. With the development of Xfinity, mobile applications, and web based account management, Comcast has not only established itself as a cable operator and nearly a internet service provider monopoly, it has perfected the concept of ‘knowing what your customers want before they do’. But does this mean that Comcast need not concern themselves with this same philosophy for their newer divisions, particularly their Business Class Service that launched in 2009? Hardly.
The enormous successes as a residential internet and cable provider has created disconnect between Comcast and its Business Class customers. As we all know, Comcast’s strength is also its weakness. The volatile nature of high-speed internet bears the burden of being in frequent need of maintenance. Where as a home owner might be able to survive a few days or hours without internet or cable service, the ramifications of a business not being able to communicate for a few days or even a few hours could prove catastrophic.
Offering a Business Class Service tailored specifically to small to medium sized businesses, Comcast is touting the speed of their internet connections as being essential for small businesses to keep up with larger firms in terms of communication and information technology. The speed of Comcast’s connections is a huge competitive advantage over their rivals AT&T, Verizon, and Qwest Business. This speed combined with the disinterest on the part of the competition in targeting small businesses, has provided great potential for Comcast to capitalize on a fresh market.
And yet, this marks our decline into the muddied waters of uniformed concentric diversification and the consequences of jumping into a market without first knowing what matters most to the target market.
If you own a small to medium sized business that is a national, service based organization, what would be your primary concern so far as infrastructure? Communications of course. Whatever variable expenses you may have from year to year, there must be an allocation and focus put on the ability of your firm to communicate in a timely and consistent manner. Particularly in a service based company, every minute you’re unable to communicate is money going out the window. Most telecommunications providers for businesses project appeal based on their reliability. Windstream Communications, for example, admit that even though they do not have the fastest connections for internet and telephone service, they do provide the same systems to businesses as used by police departments, hospitals and government buildings which provide a degree of reliability even during the most distressed of circumstances.
Treating Business Class customers as you would a residential customer in the telecommunications industry can be equated to a bank treating a personal checking account the same as a corporate account. There are some things you just don’t do. If Comcast hopes to grow its Business Class division, the ‘too big to care’ philosophy is going to need a massive shift. I don’t think offering more high definitions channels will keep businesses considering Comcast for their telecommunications service.