3 Key Lessons Businesses Can Learn from March Madness

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Customer Engagement
Customer Experience
The Ides of March are upon us. And for many companies that means thousands of hours of lost productivity as employees fill out brackets and stay glued to game updates to see if their Cinderella team will upset the competition and go all the way to the national title.

The Ides of March are upon us. And for many companies that means thousands of hours of lost productivity as employees fill out brackets and stay glued to game updates to see if their Cinderella team will upset the competition and go all the way to the national title.

While employers may be agonizing on how to solve this productivity meltdown, they may instead want to take advantage of the lessons that can be gleaned from the tournament.

1. Never underestimate your competition, no matter how small
When it comes to the NCAA Tournament, the notion of underdogs rising up to the challenge is probably the most compelling part of the tournament. In the tournament, past performance don't guarantee success. While most major sports' playoffs focus on series that try to reward the best teams, the tournament features a one-and-done format. That format has yielded many upsets. In 2010 it was the Butler Bulldogs making it to the National title. Last year, it was Dayton making it to the elite 8 after beating heavily favored Kansas in the round of 32. So far last week Georgia State and University of Alabama, two teams selected as a 14-seed, knocked out two 3-seed teams in Baylor and Iowa State, respectively.

Much like the tournament, one of the biggest mistakes companies make is underestimating their competitors and becoming complacent. Understanding the competition is critical for success, as many products and companies fail because competitors make moves the company has not anticipated. Many businesses also make the mistake of thinking competition ends on price when in fact the most significant differentiator in this day and age is the customer experience. Customer service and engagement practices can make or break a business.

2. Expect the unexpected
Much of the excitement surrounding March Madness stems from the aspect that anything can happen no matter what seed you are. Upsets are bound to happen and teams need to stay focused and be prepared.

Like basketball, businesses today aren't immune to disruption. They're operating in an ever more interconnected and globalized world. Consumer demands and changing policies will impact companies' bottom lines if they don't respond and adapt to their changing environments.

Businesses must take strategic decisions now and promote changes in long-term thinking. Without action and planning for the complex future that lies ahead, risks will multiply and opportunities will be lost. Businesses must regularly assess and understand future risks and define responses to deal with them through efficiency or adaptation.

3. Competition is a good thing
March is known by many as a month of grueling competitions and heartbreaking finishes on the basketball court. That's why the qualifying rounds of March Madness represent the pinnacle of competition.

In business, having competition is healthy. It stops complacency by pushing companies out of their comfort zones because of the quest to serve better. It fosters innovation because it forces organizations to constantly look for better ways to add value and to stand out among consumers. And it reminds companies to focus on their key customers. After all, they're the reason why they're in business in the first place.

To learn more ways to improve customer engagement, check out today's 1to1 Media feature, "Teams Score with 'Fan-Tastic' Engagement."

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION