It pays to pay attention to the competition.
Sure, you might peek at their website, read their tweets and check out their new product releases.
However, if their customers are leaving satisfied with their service and your customers are just, well, leaving, it’s time to get more serious.
What does your competition have that you don’t?
What are their customer service reps doing better? Can you implement some of their strategies? Can you tweak these strategies for increased growth and success?
By digging deeper into what is (or isn’t) working for your competition, it’s possible to uncover new strategies to improve not only your customer service but every area of your business.
Instead of scrapping your entire service strategy and starting over from scratch, use information gained from the competition as a foothold to expand and improve your strategy without reinventing the wheel.
By tweaking existing ideas and service practices in place by the competition, you save valuable time, money, and make your business stand out as creative and unique.
For example, take the concept of patents. Of all the patents applied for each year, most of them are not for completely new, original products. Many patents are for the expansion or improvement of an existing product or idea. Patents are an excellent example of tweaking versus reinventing the wheel.
Apply this same concept to your customer service. The tweaking concept can be used to improve any area in your business needing improvement.
Assess your competitor
The idea is not to steal or participate in unethical business practices relative to your competition.
Rather, take a closer look at what they are doing to outperform your business. Once you find out, evaluate whether or not it is a good working model for your business.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- How can I take this idea and tweak it into something unique to my business?
- How can I modify their system and implement into my business plan?
The fine art of tweaking
As you discover more about the competitor’s business practices, it’s time for the tweaking phase.
Here are some suggestions to master the fine art of tweaking:
- Based on a competitor’s model, streamline internal procedures for improved efficiency.
- Improve your ecommerce capabilities. Make the customer experience as fast, easy and customer friendly as possible.
- Follow the competition on social media. Be active on social media by responding to posts, leaving comments and suggestions, and posting relevant news articles and trends.
- Implement a joint venture(JV) arrangement with businesses offering a related product or service. Strike an agreement to link to related product/service websites in exchange for them listing a link to your website from theirs. For example, if your business sells exercise equipment, feature JV links on your site for related partners selling workout videos, books, exercise gear and vice versa.
- Follow industry websites to keep up with the latest trends, technology and news.
- For steady feedback, read industry forums for positive and negative customer discussions.
- Provide white papers on your products for customer research purposes.
- Conduct surveys for feedback and release a study/report on the findings. Topics can cover anything from customer satisfaction to product ratings.
- Get involved in the local community not only as a means of goodwill but as a way to reach out to customers in person. Sponsor events and/or join networking groups to share ideas and suggestions.
- If the competition offers a monthly newsletter, put together helpful YouTube-type videos on your website showing installation and product tips.
- Implement a weekly or monthly email campaign to keep your company name fresh in customers’ minds. Always keep your business name in front of your customers!
- Offer comparable incentives, rebates, free shipping and handling if the competition offers them.
- Issue press releases whenever possible.
What does my competition have that I don’t? Finding the answer to that question is priority No.1 on your to-do list. To outperform your competition, first find out what they are doing to outperform you in any given area.
Once you discover what they are doing, consider whether tweaking it would make sense or help your business. Once better systems are in place, it won’t be long before your competition is wondering what you have that they don’t.