Being better than your competition doesn’t mean you have to do something dramatic. It’s not about coming up with a monumental idea, or working non-stop for 30 days. To lead the field, you have to start with the customer. Once you know the expectations, it’s critical that you develop a plan that you and your employees can follow.
Putting together the plan is the beginning. Make sure to keep it simple. A process with 10 steps is much easier to follow than one with 20. Remember that others must learn to carry out the plan, and they are more likely to delivery quality service when the design has a clear purpose, and a logical flow.
#1: Talk to your customer – over and over.
What does your customer want? Why is it that they chose your company and not the services provided by your competitors? What makes you unique? What value do you bring to the customer? How does that value create loyalty?
The higher education industry is competitive today. There are many private and public universities vying for prospective students. Adult learners are looking for an accredited degree with a flexible schedule. However, those components alone will fail to differentiate one institution from the next. The university leadership team must implement world-class customer support in the areas of financial aid, academic advising, and IT support. By taking that approach, a competitive edge is gained even in a dynamic, competitive, and saturated market.
#2: Simplify your processes.
The most successful organizations have a simple process to manage all activities. Process development and management might sound boring to some, but it is a key differentiator. Processes created at the operational level deliver the organizational strategy.
A life insurance company was taking nearly eight weeks to evaluate applications submitted by its salespeople. Through a quick audit, it was determined that seven people were reviewing the 21 steps required for every application. An external consultant team recommended that just two key people review the applications. By making this change, the applications were completed in just 48 hours.
#3: Develop a continuous improvement mindset.
It’s dangerous to believe that you have arrived. As I write this article, I’m sitting in an outsource center in The Philippines. Many business owners and organizational leaders are leveraging the power of talented people stationed around the world.
Your customers demand that you offer them a quality product at a reasonable price. The customer is now in the driver’s seat, and they expect to have the tools necessary to manage their business activities. To that end, you should provide account management tools they can access via web and mobile technologies.
The long-term growth and sustainability of any organization begins by focusing on the customer’s needs. In essence, many companies fail not because of competition, but because they failed to listen to their own customers.
Avoid trying to make big changes. Doing something just to gain attention is often counterproductive. Instead, develop a simple process, and teach it to your employees. Once it’s implemented, you must constantly seek feedback from your employees and customers to ensure the necessary adjustments are made promptly. This systematic and straightforward approach will provide your organization with a competitive edge for many years to come.