The Coca Cola Mistake -- Not Listening to its Customers

May 1, 2006
It's all about listening to your customers and giving them what they want, not obsessing on what your competitor is doing. In a bold move, Pratt & Whitney has taken listening to its customers to a new level.

On the trip back from last week's MRO show in Phoenix, I was watching The History Channel on Frontier Airlines' in-flight programming. The show was talking about the history of Coca Cola and Pepsi. It talked about how both companies evolved and grew. Part of the feature included a discussion of Coke's decision to change its recipe in the late '80s. It seems that Coke was worried about Pepsi's growing market share and decided to change its recipe to more closely match Pepsi's. As we now know, that was a big mistake. The backlash was intense. Coke ended up changing its recipe back and once again offered "Classic Coke."

It appears that Coke was more obsessed with what Pepsi was doing than with what its customers wanted. If it would have taken the time to listen to what its customers wanted, it would have realized that they liked the recipe just as it was.

The same goes in any industry. We must always pay attention to our customer and give them what they want. That is one way to ensure success.

Pratt & Whitney recently took listening to its customers to a new level. It listened to United Airlines' concern with replacement parts for the CFM56-3 engine. Pratt discovered there was a need that was not being met and decided to offer a solution for that need. It decided to take the amazing step of manufacturing replacement parts for the CFM56-3 engine under Parts Manufacturing Approval. Pratt says that it is doing more than just making PMA parts. It is offering quality parts solutions by bringing to the table its engineering expertise and aftermarket support.

PMA companies say that is exactly what they have been doing for years and that this move by Pratt & Whitney just adds to the legitimacy of PMA parts as a whole.

So, what do you think about this whole issue? How do you feel about PMA parts? What do you think about an OEM stepping into the PMA arena?

Thanks for reading!

Joe Escobar