Customer experience is an ongoing challenge, but also your greatest opportunity to leave your competitors in the dust. Post 2 in our Seven Steps to CX Nirvana series explores how you can exploit openings and win on the new battleground of outstanding customer experience.
Are You Beating your Competitors at Customer Experience?
Blockbuster. Dell. Kodak. Sears. Toys “R” Us. What’s your favorite example of a company that took its eyes off the competitors and ignored key trends until it was too late to change course? Take your pick. There are many to choose from.
These companies learned the ultimate lesson: no brand lives in a bubble. You can’t afford to take your eye off what’s happening around you. For most brands today, the key trend is customer experience. In 2019, and for the foreseeable future, beating your competitors depends on anticipating and over-delivering throughout the customer journey.
Who Are Your True Competitors?
At the risk of stating the obvious, you must have a clear understanding of who you’re competing against. And they aren’t always the obvious suspects. Are you sure you know who your competitors really are today?
Let’s take Subway as an illustration. It’s no secret they’ve battled declining sales since 2012. Yet according to Restaurant Business, their strongest competition today isn’t other sub sandwich chains, or even independent sandwich eateries. Instead, Chick-fil-A and restaurant delivery services are eating their lunch (sorry, couldn’t resist).
Innovation, disruption, and changing customer attitudes mean your competitors aren’t necessarily offering a similar product or service. Subway’s appeal has always been location. You can’t walk more than two city blocks without spotting one.
But what’s even more convenient than walking a block to Subway for mediocre food? Sitting on your couch or in your office, having your favorite restaurant food delivered fast and cheap. Their true competitor doesn’t even make sandwiches.
So, when you’re listing your rivals, look beyond the obvious. They might not be who you thought they were, and they can change quickly. Unless you know who your true competitors are, you’ll find yourself jousting with windmills like Don Quixote.
CX, Your Opportunity to Differentiate
Once you’ve correctly identified your competitors, how will you differentiate? 20 years ago, even 10 years ago, you’d probably answer with a better product, service, market fit, or price point. But today, winning and retaining customers means anticipating and delivering the experiences your competitors can’t, or won’t.
Let’s take Chick-fil-A, for instance. Their success isn’t just about making a tastier sandwich. Instead, it’s their lightning-fast service, clean facilities, and strategic, family-friendly branding. Have you ever purchased one of their kids meals? Instead of cheap, throwaway plastic toys promoting the latest Disney flick, you’ll find a higher-quality toy or a carefully-chosen book.
Given their attention to CX, it’s no surprise that Chick-Fil consistently leads the category in the American Customer Satisfaction Index, ahead of all other major fast food chains. In fact, courtesy and helpfulness of staff was rated even more important than taste or food quality.
Differentiating your offering, and communicating that difference, is Marketing 101. And today, more than ever, prioritizing customer experience (post 1 of series) throughout your organization is the best opportunity for you to win in a crowded marketplace.
So Who’s Getting CX Right in Your Industry?
A recent report by Brandwatch surveyed consumers to rate the brands consistently delivering the best customer experiences today. Among the winners are Sephora, a beauty company that replies to most messages within two hours and Delta Air Lines, for responding to 30% of all social media mentions. Just think about that for a moment. Isn’t that an impressive feat for a major airline?
Make no mistake. Delta made a strategic choice to invest in epic responsiveness and personalization. And at this touch point, at least, they blew away their competitors. In nearly every industry you can think of, consumers are rewarding CX-obsessed organizations and ignoring the rest of the pack.
Keeping the Balls in the Air
It’s always been crucial to look beyond your own organization to your true competitors. It’s always been important to think ahead and be proactive, not reactive, to trends. And yes, it’s always been a juggling act to allocate resources to those things while running the rest of your business, managing staff, and delivering products or services.
So how does your CX stack up against your competitors? Are you exceeding their efforts at every step of the customer journey—and keeping all those other balls in the air?
If you’d like to discuss boosting your brand with better CX, feel free to reach out to me. Let’s put our heads together and develop strategy that leaves your competitors in the dust.