Competitive edge or advantage is the aspect of your business that standout against all your competitors. As a business how do you rate with competitors? What do you do better than the rest of the businesses in your field that keeps the customers flocking? For example, there are many taxis to choose from within Liberia, or the many vendors that cross our paths with lucrative items on display. However there is something that attracts you to one vendor over the others, or makes you ride a particular taxi (but not during rush hour). Could be the demeanor of the vendor, the location, the cleanliness or perhaps the reliability of the service? Whatever influences your choice is the competitive advantage created over other suppliers. In the same accordance as an entrepreneur, one ought to hatch a brilliant but sustainable advantage that floats above the rest.
When Apple launched the ipods, little did they know they were revolutionizing the way people listen to music globally? Today a record 225 Million ipods have been sold in the market with many other manufacturers coming into scene. However, Apple had already created an edge as the first-mover in the field of portable music; as they sort to not only fulfill the current but also future customers’ needs. Like Apple and many other global first-movers, your business can create a product that sends customers queuing. Start by environmental scanning on your area of operation. Peruse through the surrounding of your business from consumers, suppliers, competitors, and government requirements. These will paint the realistic picture of what competitors are doing to meet their customer demands. The void created as competitors try to outsmart each other can easily be identified at this stage. Then implement a fast and effective response before others do so.
Emphasize on R&D (research and development) to keep improving your existing products, no matter the size of your business. Think of how to make the customers Loyal by treating them as Royals. Invest in time to listen to your customers, as word of mouth is the best or worst marketing tool, depending on which end of the spectrum hits you. It is no longer about aping what others are doing, but improving what has already been done or yet to be done. Be innovative, use adverts, captivating display, exceptional customer satisfaction among other marketing tools. Remember it is not just a cliché, as the customer is always right. Don’t settle as just another business, be the preferred business.
It is no longer considered customer service but rather customer satisfaction. Titles have also tilted from customer service managers to more intimate and hyped ‘ Customer Relations Managers’ as firms gear up to compete for the ever demanding and changing customers. So stiff is competition as consumers are well educated by the technological advancement especially in the information edge provided by the internet! To keep afloat in the twenty first century, businesses have to go beyond providing goods and services but also invest in time to understand their customers. The other day I walked into a barber shop hoping to get a clean cut before starting my weekend. Alas! As I opened the door there were few other patrons already ahead of me and I had to wait. To my astonishment I was ushered into a waiting room fit for a king and served with a cool drink to sooth my throat. The receptionist introduced me to other services offered such as manicure, pedicure and massage at competitive pricing. Feeling the tense in my body after a week of hard work, I opted for the massage and immediately after that I was seated at the comfortable leather sit that sent me into dreamland. By the time I left there, I looked new and felt fresh and ready to face the tough challenges.
In the end it may have been one of the most expensive shaves I have had, but considering the atmospheres and royal treatment I received, I am set to be back there in a short while. This is testimony to the kind of customer relations that today’s consumers are looking for; a place not just fit to have a shave but also feel appreciated. As a business hoping to woo more customers, strive to know what their favorite things are, and map out how to fulfill them. Don’t wait to be asked what you do, but answer the questions before they are asked. Dangle the juicy elements of your business and let that attract the attention for other services. It is like mastering the art of dating; to get more and more dates, you must be willing to know more of your mates likes and dislikes.