Stop comparing yourself to the competition.
It's okay to ask yourself, "What are they doing that we aren't?" However, that can be a dangerous question. I use the word dangerous to warn you that all you are doing is "baseline thinking." I call it that because it's at the base.
Realize that others in your industry are probably asking themselves the same question. If all you do is copy your competitor, then you risk being the same as them—not an organization that's different, and ideally better. In worst-case scenarios, you become a commodity. It doesn't matter if you're B2B or B2C, you become just another version of the same. I encourage you to take it a step further and make it better.
My suggestion is to go beyond the competition and look at the best companies from any and every industry. That said, there are steps that address the competition. This is a real opportunity to improve. To help you do this, I came up with a process to get you from just thinking about how to be better than your competition to actually becoming better:
1. Assemble your team, which includes leadership and several other members from various departments that include front line and behind-the-scenes responsibilities. The key is having a diverse group of thinkers.
2. Even though I want you to think beyond your competition, you should still do the exercises in this step and the next. List your competitors and ask two questions: "What are we doing that they don't do?" followed by, "What are they doing that we don't do?" The first question will make you feel good about yourself and your company if, in fact, you do something different. The second question will help you find that "dangerous opportunity." You must be able to keep up with your competition, and this exercise helps.
3. Make a plan to execute on what's needed to keep up. If you do copy what someone else is doing, try and find a way to make it your own. Improve on it or give it a twist. Look for differentiation, not duplication.
4. Time for another meeting. Get the same group together for another brainstorming session and start with the question, "What companies, not including competitors, do you like doing business with the most?" Make a list. It doesn't matter what type of business it is. Popular companies and brands include Amazon, Apple, Nordstrom, Zappos, and others recognized for amazing service and customer experience. The list could include a local restaurant, a shoe-repair, real estate agency, law firm, manufacturer and more. Any company counts.
5. Share why you enjoy doing business with them. Everything counts. The more on this list, the better—even if it seems like common sense.
6. Make a note of everything they do that you already do. Feel good about this. Take a moment to celebrate!
7. Now comes the fun part. Look at that list and determine if there are other things they do that you don't do. This is the opportunity to find ways to increase the level of service and experience that not only you don't do, but that your competition doesn't do either. This is the experience growth opportunity, and it is what will help set you apart from the competition.
Why do business with you? Going through this process will make that question easy to answer. Compare yourself to the best—from any industry—and borrow their best service ideas. Your value proposition is a unique or different process or approach that will help you get new business as well as retain existing business. And who doesn't want that?
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, contact 314-692-2200 or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken
(Copyright © MMXX, Shep Hyken)
This article was republished with permission and originally appeared at Shep Hyken.
Graphic courtesy of Shep Hyken.