Geo Week News

March 20, 2012

Is the Wow Factor Pushing Prices Down?


I spend a lot of time trying to keep up with industry news. A lot of that time is spent on forum sites like LinkedIn. As I travel a bit I find myself doing the lion’s share of this research on mobile devices. As I considered a poll in the Professional Land Surveyor Group about the “Major Challenge Facing Professional Land Surveyors Today” I was notified that an app I was downloading had completed and I had one of those “moments of clarity” when two disparate ideas suddenly seem connected.

On the survey group poll the topic of “What is The Major Challenge Facing Professional Land Surveyors Today” had turned into a group think conversation about how the price charged for surveying services is too low for what the consumer actually receives. The lament was that, because technology had decreased field times, customers expected to pay less and also expected a faster delivery date for the final product. The real problem was that this technology was expensive and actually raised the costs of performing the service, meaning that surveyors should be charging more not less for using the new tech. That’s when it hit me. The problem isn’t the tech or the cost of services it is the expectations of the customer. No one has this problem more than Apple.

If the hardware does all the work, why should they pay you?

Like much of the world I’ve purchased an iPad in last year. It’s my first iOS product as my mobile OS of choice is Android. I was very hesitant to get into the Apple ecosystem again as I thoroughly enjoy the open nature of Android. In my opinion the open source nature of the Android OS Is the reason that over three years of daily use of an Android phone I have never once purchased an app. I’ve always been able to find a free version of whatever I wanted. I’ve had an iPad for 2 months and I’ve already bought about 10 apps. However, because I don’t like paying for them I am very diligent about reading critical reviews of apps in the store. It has lead me to a realization; the more you wow your customers, the more they expect.

The app I was downloading was GarageBand. I almost chose to not download it due to the critical reviews. The app was called “junk” and “waste of money.” In fact, 55 people gave this app two stars or less as a rating. After using the app for about a week I can say that I think it is fantastic! It is a bit limited compared to the desktop version but it also cost 75 percent less. The fact that it only cost $4.99 goes to my point about expectations. I estimate that I have spent 10-15 hours playing with GarageBand in the last week; and I’m far from done using it. I can’t think of one thing I could purchase at a retail store for $4.99 that would hold my attention for so long. I don’t think twice about dropping twice that amount for a drink at an airport bar (nor would I care to see a poll of the opinions of other drinkers), but I was very worried about wasting that amount on an app.

Why is this? I really don’t know. Perhaps it is that the app is not a physical object. That certainly seems to be an issue when it comes to the deliverables from 3D imaging. But I suspect that it is the “wow” factor of the devices in question. Once you’ve had your doors blown off by some new piece of tech it is hard to find a solid footing from which to base your expectations. This goes doubly so for 3D imaging. Most people are introduced to it by sitting in a conference room and watching a salesperson scan the room while he does a presentation. The results are instant and many times we downplay the work necessary to generate a usable deliverable. What we need to sell, and make certain that customers understand that we are offering, is our experience and skill sets. 

Anyone with a decent credit card can show up onsite with the hardware. If that’s what you used to wow your client, don’t be surprised when they devalue your services. All it takes is a monkey to push that play button.

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