What is your company’s point of differentiation?
I was recently in a market in Shanghai, China, doing some typical tourist shopping for my family. Slightly overwhelmed at the number of vendors and people, I wondered where do I start and how do I choose between the vendors selling the same products? It occurred to me that this market represented business economics at a micro level. The competition is fierce, the pricing strategy is similar and the products available are easily replicated. So, how do I choose which vendor to do business with? As I perused through the market looking for that special something I realized that the decision maker for me was service. I wanted to do business with someone who was knowledgeable, engaged and genuine. I was looking for an exceptional customer experience.
To have something that is truly unique to your company it must be hard to replicate. Technology has made product development and speed to market easier. Pricing and marketing strategies appear to be similar across industries. Grocery stores have similar sales, outlets all have similar pricing and sales and so on. Lean manufacturing, just in time delivery (JIT) and quality assurance is practiced by most businesses. So what is the differentiator? EXCEPTIONAL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE. This is the only point of difference between your business and your competition.
Where does this exceptional customer experience come from? Your people. Employees who are properly trained and understand your company's mission and vision and support your company's values are your secret sauce. Employee's who are given the autonomy to make decisions and trusted with information and encouraged to be innovative will want to work for your company. Employees who understand their goals and collaborate with others will achieve desired outcomes. Employees who are provided opportunity to learn and grow will work harder and be happier. Employees who are engaged and enjoy what they do will provide exceptional customer service to your clients, customers and each other.
How do you know if your employees are engaged? Ask yourself these questions. What type of customer experience are our employees providing to our clients and/or customers? Are they engaged? Do they understand our company vision, mission and values? Does our organization provide training on the type of service we want our employees to provide? Are our employees knowledgeable about our products and services? Do they have the autonomy to make decisions? Are we treating our employees with respect and transparency? Do we communicate our strategic goals and expectations with our employees on a regular basis?
If you answered no to any of these questions you may want to develop a plan to address these issue(s) and build into your plan a talent management and communication strategy that will create a culture of learning, innovation, accountability resulting in exceptional people delivering exceptional service.
About the author:
Liz Gavin is Strategic HR Consultant with You Group and if you answered no to any of the questions, you can get started with an assessment today.