How to beat the competition?
There is always pressure to watch the competition, to see if we can beat them or if they are currently beating us. So many businesses obsess about what their competition is doing that they miss the true issue at stake. It is not the competition but instead themselves, their own beliefs, systems and actions.
True winners do not focus on the competition: they focus on themselves. They seek to truly improve everything they do, using information systematically gathered from their developing relationships with customers.
In the world of the empowered consumer and transparent online feedback, this has never been more important. Customers can toy with your reputation at the click of a mouse, publicise your problems at the swipe of a screen, and tell the whole world whether you were great or poor in a nano-second.
The true competition is not who you think it is. The true competition is your own business: your systems and processes, and whether they are good enough for the hyper-competitive world of the empowered customer.
Of course it’s important to keep an eye on what’s happening in your market, and to know what your supposed competitors are offering to clients, but this is only background information. I urge you to use this as a starting point only and instead obsess on the following four points:
Get closer to your customers. Your customers can tell you what’s out in the market, what you’re doing well and what you’re not. You then know what needs to change, and through this process you will also build world-class customer loyalty.
Put a continuous improvement and innovation system into place in your business, based on small steps, continually executed. We call this ‘going the extra inch’.
Filter all your systems and processes through the customer’s emotional needs: trust, attention and easy life. This way you can avoid inadvertently putting your foot in it, and make sure all of your systems deliver the optimum customer experience, resulting in maximum customer loyalty, reputation, cross-sales, up-sales and referrals.
Make sure you have at the heart of your organisation something we call a ‘customer-focussed mission’. This is a belief that you are not there to make money, but instead to do something so well that customers want to give you their money. This needs to cover every aspect of your business and direct everything you do within it.
If you do all of these things well it will enable you to continually improve and rise head and shoulders above the competition. Always keep an eye on your competition, as we’ve already mentioned, but more importantly keep an eye on yourself. Focus on your systems and ensure that you are continually improving and innovating to meet and exceed the needs of your customer: next week, next month, next year and next decade. In this hyper-competitive customer-empowered world nobody knows what’s round the corner, but you need to know before anyone else does, otherwise your market could literally disappear overnight, or trickle away until you suddenly realise that things have changed but it’s already too late.
Don’t focus on the competition. Focus on yourself and your competition will become less of a problem.