Do you know what it takes to stay ahead of the competition? Is that one of your business goals?
I recently did an interview with someone for an article she was writing, and one of the questions was about competition and how to best research the competition. Other questions on the topic revolved around how businesses can stay relevant and how they can set themselves apart in over-saturated industries. (I'll share the link here once the article is published.)
I’m a huge believer in innovate, don’t imitate . I think it’s important to understand what the competitive landscape looks like, but you cannot stay to focused on the competition. Do your homework. Be aware. Understand what they’re doing. But focus on your customers; research your customers and your customers’ needs, and then go and do your thing.
When there are clear, differentiated choices of products, services, and/or experiences in the marketplace, the decision is made easier for your customers. Bring your own unique value to the table. When customers' experiences with one company stink, they have the ability to go purchase from someone else. Let them decide.
So, to stand apart, innovate the experience. In a world with so many commodity products and services, the only real differentiator becomes the experience. Deliver a unique and differentiated experience. In most cases, that’s pretty simple. Honestly, just make it easy to do business with your company.
The day after that interview, I saw this article from strategy+business about What It Takes to Stay Ahead of the Competition . Of course, I was curious to see how the authors addressed this topic. No surprise that we were in alignment; in their research, the authors found that four particular capabilities emerged as integral to sustaining high-quality performance:
I cannot argue with any of those four; as a matter of fact, I've written about these topics previously.
Improvements are critical. Without them, your customer experience will be stuck in the same rut it's always been in. Take your customer feedback, and do something with it.
Innovation is probably one of my favorite topics to write about when it comes to differentiation and staying ahead of the competition.
Those slow-moving or slow-rising competitive threats are called Weak Signals. They are everywhere, and the trick is often knowing which ones to act on.
I've not written a post specific to Responsiveness, but it is a critical component in delivering a great customer experience and in standing apart from the competition. One way to counter the complications and implications of unexpected issues is to be proactive, to conduct pre-mortems (what could go wrong?), and more.
Don't let the competition dictate your business decisions and your customer experience. Don't make the competition your primary focus or driving force. Do your own work. Understand your customers. Be prepared. And innovate. Continuously innovate... your products, your talent development, and your experience.