When you are running a business, your competitors and your customers are two key areas of your business. If your customers are not happy, then they will go somewhere else. Most likely, they will go to your competitors. To ensure that you retain your customer base and even focus on winning over new customers, you have to have a competitive edge. You have to differentiate your business offering and set your business apart from the competition. If you do not gain a competitive edge, or, advantage, you will lose existing customers, and you will struggle to win over new customers, too. To establish your advantage or edge, you need to evaluate your business, your competition, and the market/industry within which you operate.
Looking at Your Business
To begin with, you need to evaluate what your business is currently doing and what it is offering. Quite often, you will find that when you look at your business from an outsider’s perspective, you will see areas for improvement that you might not have even seen before. Looking at your business with a fresh pair of eyes can help you clearly see where areas for improvement lie. So, taking a look at how your business stands today, and looking at the customer service you provide, are you happy? Do you feel that your customers are getting service that goes above and beyond what your competitors are providing? Seeing room for improvement at this stage is good because, now you have seen it, you have time to make improvements and make positive changes.
Evaluating Your Customer Service
Going through the customer service your customers receive both before, during, and after a transaction, is there anything that you would change, or is there anything that you would improve? To fully evaluate customer service, you must evaluate every area of the process. Knowing where mistakes happen and knowing where frustration creeps in is essential because it is at this stage that you will lose customers. So, if you can avoid losing customers in these early days, you will be in a stronger position. As well as undertaking the customer service evaluations on your own, it would also be beneficial if you had friends or family try out the process and see what obstacles or issues they encounter along the way. Testing the service at different times and with different scenarios’ will give you a clear picture of just what your customer service has to offer, and most importantly, what weak areas there are to improve.
Utilize Competitive Intelligence
Now that you know what your customer service has to offer, it is time to evaluate the competition and see if they offer a similar, if not better, service. Conducting both primary research yourself is essential, but so too is conducting secondary research. To carry out secondary market research, you can use the competitive intelligence firm HelloInfo to obtain accurate information and data that can only be captured by an experienced and knowledgeable team such as them. Once you have the information and statistics you need, you can begin to formulate a target plan for moving forward. Utilizing both primary and secondary research will ensure that you can create a plan that highlights specific areas for improvement. Without utilizing competitive intelligence, you would struggle to see where areas for improvement lie, and you would struggle to establish where you could gain the competitive edge and what competitive advantage you could implement.
Strengthen Weak Areas
Now before you move on to implementing a competitive advantage, you have to focus on strengthening weak areas. If you do not improve your business’s areas of weakness, then you will lose customers, and you will develop a poor reputation. Poor reputations, especially those that are consistently poor, are hard to improve, and quite often, too many poor reviews or poor customer experiences are detrimental for a business. If after looking at the areas for improvement you feel that you cannot tackle them alone, it is important to use other businesses and other professionals to help. If you cannot fix problems yourself, then you will need to call in a specialist to help and provide assistance, or you will have to look at other suppliers and providers.
Existing and new customers alike will not wait for you to fix and rectify issues. So, for instance, if you run a store, and you know that your customer orders or deliveries are leaving your store on time but arriving ridiculously late, it is time to look at using other delivery companies. Slow deliveries are a real issue for customers, and when orders are delayed or late for no apparent reason, customers do not show any mercy, even if the problem is not with you, and it is actually with a third party. The process of improvement within your business could take days, or it could take weeks. It is important that weak areas are strengthened before you move on to establishing a competitive advantage.
Establish a Competitive Advantage
Hopefully, now that your business processes have been improved and enhanced, it is time to establish a competitive advantage. Without a competitive advantage, you will not gain new business, which will mean that your business will remain stagnant. Stagnant businesses will fail over time, so to ensure that you do not end up within this category, it is vital that you introduce at least one way to stay ahead of the competition. For example, you could introduce free delivery if you offer a delivery service. You could extend the opening hours of your customer service department, or you could even look at introducing a rewards system that retains existing customers and encourages new customers through the doors. Looking at what your competitors are doing and what they are offering will help you establish what your competitive advantage could be. One thing to note is that, as soon as you have established what it is, you need to take action as soon as possible if you want to be successful.