which are better or cheaper than your competition, you must listen to the voice of your customer. This listening is not just a one-time event. Listening is an ongoing process, as well as knowing what questions to ask.
Competitive advantage requires more than just responding to your customers’ needs and wants. It requires creativity. Not only do you need to understand your customer, you need to figure out what you can do for your customers that no one else is doing. Be creative. Look at your strengths and weaknesses in the context of competitive advantage. See what everyone else sees, but think and do what no one else is thinking or doing. To get the competitive advantage, examine all your competencies and combine them.
Operational effectiveness is a vital component of your competitive strategy. If your organization can't deliver, the customer will go somewhere else. On the other hand, if you and your competition are all focused on doing the same things in the same way, then the customer will have only price on which to differentiate his buying choices. Price, as we know, is a non-sustainable competitive advantage. True competitive advantage requires distinctiveness.
Create competitive advantage by ensuring that processes and procedures complement each other. Verify that service is an extension of sales and vice versa. Make sure your technology supports sales and service, and delivers the ability to manage the total customer relationship. When sales, marketing, customer support and administrative functions are all interconnected and mutually reinforcing, competitors don't have to match just one thing, they have to match the whole system. Consistency across functions and activities creates advantage that is sustainable.
Being as good as the competition might allow you to survive. Being better than the competition will allow you thrive.
Make sure you aren't among the whiners, blaming bad times, the soft market or the bad economy for your lack of growth or loss of revenue. There has never been a better time to be better than the competition—to create your own advantage.