Andrew Sobko, CEO of CDL 1000a supply chain logistics company powered by AI-driven solutions, is an entrepreneur passionate about tech.
Starting a business is never easy, and there are many barriers to entry no matter what industry or market you pursue. To survive, and eventually succeed, there are many considerations and steps to take, including a well-thought-out business plan, market and financial feasibility studies and a comprehensive risk assessment.
The most obvious consideration is if you can offer a unique product or service that solves a specific problem. If you’re one of the rare instances where there is no competitor, then you may already have a winning idea (or you haven’t done enough research of the product or service your business will offer). If you have competitors, study what they are doing and make sure you are doing it better and at a competitive market value.
After identifying who you will be working against to gain market share, now comes the hard part of differentiating your company from the rest. What you base your company’s values on and the service you provide will make or break your chance of success.
Three ways to truly separate your business in the market are:
1. Providing an excellent product or service at a competitive price, backed by a value-added customer experience.
2. Offering technology solutions that meet customers’ needs.
3. Having an innovative company culture—both in the technology you offer and in the way you handle your business.
Looking at these items isn’t a one-and-done process when starting a business. Rather, it’s important to continually monitor these customer-focused touchpoints, among others, to ensure your company is staying ahead of market trends and not lagging behind competitors in the space. There’s always more market share to be had, and your competitors are likely thinking of them at this very moment.
The Value Of Excellent Customer Service
After a product or service is provided to a customer, it’s in their hands to decide if it’s what they needed and to the quality they expected. If that last piece isn’t quite up to par, there’s still a chance to salvage the relationship with the customer depending on the level of quality customer service that you provide.
The statistics to prove this are telling, and according to Salesforce, 89% of consumers are more likely to make another purchase after a positive customer service experience. That same study found that 78% of consumers will “forgive a company for its mistake after receiving excellent service.” Further, HubSpot research showed that “93% [of consumers] were more likely to be repeat customers at companies with excellent customer service.”
You can use this customer loyalty to have them recommend your company to others instead of defecting to another company, as Zendesk revealed 61% of customers would do after just one bad experience.
So, not only does customer service impact one customer after the sale, but providing excellent customer service can even impact growth. By going above and beyond for your customers, you’re setting yourself apart from competitors and potentially even gaining market share through word of mouth and building a loyal base, which is a key progress indicator of any business marketing plan.
Implementing technology into business processes used to be such a burden. Not only can it be expensive, but getting employee buy-in and teaching them how to use a new system often takes a long time and was disruptive to normal workflow. But that’s no longer the case. Nowadays, a lot of technology can be easily integrated into existing business processes right out of the box and is so user-friendly that it doesn’t take nearly as long to adopt. And in many cases, you will find it intuitive and complementary to existing processes in place.
The reason this is so important is that not only can technology drive efficiency within your own business, but if customers use it to access your product or service, it needs to be accessible, intuitive and interactive enough that it separates you further from competitors. Whether it’s used for customer service, bookkeeping, HR, content management, sales or it is your product, technology can distinguish your company in the marketplace. It can help make employees’ jobs easier—thus making jobs more attractive for hiring and retaining top-tier talent—and meet customers’ needs better and more efficiently than ever before.
To build a brand or have consumers rely on a product or service, it needs to be transparent and accessible. This means using technology, especially targeting the customer service experience, in a way that allows consumers to engage with the brand when it’s convenient for them.
Creating An Innovative Culture
Innovation may seem like a buzzword, but it is such an important building block for any business. You might have the most unique business model on the market one year but resting on your laurels even slightly opens the door for your competitors to gain a leg up and regain market share.
Creating a culture that sparks innovation, not only on the technology front but also in the way that you handle your business, keeps a business on the bleeding edge longer. While product and service innovation helps keep customers around longer, process and cultural innovation help employees stick around longer. This continuity can be a huge differentiator within some industries.
Starting a business and keeping it running is no easy task. Differentiating yourself from the competition can be even trickier, especially in an ever-changing market. That’s why once you’re able to set yourself apart from competitors by providing excellent customer service, implementing quality technology solutions and fostering innovative company culture, it’s important to continually monitor the market and improve along the way.
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