Establishing and re-establishing a competitive advantage is at the heart of what business leadership focuses on. In any given industry there can be dozens, sometimes hundreds, of competitors all vying for the same consumers. Writer Gregg Baron addresses what he believes should remain a fixture of every organization’s focus: establishing a culture that delivers high-value experiences. Gregg contends that company cultures focused on creating these high-value experiences will not only retain existing clients with substantially greater success, but will also position themselves for luring new clients away from competitors lacking this focus.
Competitive Advantage – A Culture Focused on High-Value Experiences
by Gregg Baron
Things move fast in the environment you have staked your reputation on. You and your team(s) are frequently juggling multiple competing priorities, working to avoid distractions with new problems to solve and opportunities to capture. At the speed of your business, do your people ever lose sight of what is most important? We would argue they most likely do (and more often than you think) based on what we observe in the diverse, fast- moving client environments we work in.
We have a particular perspective on what is most important in organizations. Over the last 30 years we have seen enough to know what really works over time and what fades quickly in organizations that have good intentions around being customer centric. We have observed that in the end, the simple and obvious outcome of delivering noticeably more value to customers is what is most important. Noticeably more value is a perception by the customer (not you, the leader, or someone else on your team that participates more directly in delivering actual value).
Speaking of Customers
When we use the term “customers” we are referring to stakeholders that can range from traditional-end user customers, to your distribution channel, to internal customers (other departments). When we refer to their target experience, we mean the total experience your people create and manage for anyone they serve and support, no matter what their role is or the context they are working in. The target your people should be aiming for at all times is creating a High-Value experience as perceived by the people they serve and support.
High-Value experiences are the sum of all of the tangible and intangible elements that impact the perceptions and expectations one has when working with you.
Consistently delivering High-Value experiences (for key stakeholders) leads to competitive advantage and sustainable success. With the right leadership, a significant focus on High-Value experiences can be a call to action and a catalyst for innovation. When you invest the appropriate amount of time and resource, the payoff(s) will dwarf the investment.
As obvious as the objective may be, the challenge always lies in execution. Achieving consistency in delivering High-Value experiences is not easy. If it were easy, all of your human touch points would already be delivering your brand promise perfectly. The key is starting with a healthy obsession and doing what it takes to “shape” your culture. A shift in culture makes the biggest difference in getting a sustainable payoff and requires patience, because changing culture always takes more commitment in time and other resources than anticipated.
Establish Cultural Norms to Influence the Collective Mindset of Your Organization. Determine what “High-Value” means to your customers and communicate that to your team using behavioral terms. Then establish the standards, mindset, skills, strategies, practices, incentives, accountability and processes to transform them into consistent reality. As your organization works over time to make High-Value experiences the primary objective, it will become a key part of who you are. Remember that your culture is “How we really do things around here including when the boss isn’t looking”.
Below is a short explanation about the 3 most significant High-Value experiences (stakeholder groups) we focus on to maximize competitive advantage.
Experience 1: The Customer Experience
When customers perceive their experience with you to be of noticeably higher value than their other options, it increases their willingness to continue buying from you, buy in additional categories you offer, and enhances their willingness to refer you to others. This is ultimately the goal of every investment you can make in service quality. If you are currently measuring NPS and buy into its value, then you are well on your way.
Experience 2: The Prospect (Sales) Experience
Over the last three years, we have reviewed two highly credible, independent research studies on measuring the prospect experience. One conclusion was already obvious: if a prospect recognizes a sales experience to be of noticeably higher value with you than with other options, it significantly impacts the probability of you earning the business.
Two of several new insights from this research are the impacts of a High-Value sales experience on the size of the agreement and the probability of that prospect becoming a customer with a significantly higher Net Promoter Score (measurably more loyal).
Focusing all of your sales improvement efforts on creating High-Value prospect experiences creates more wins in the short and long-term. Develop a healthy obsession with this objective and look at it as the path to a significant competitive advantage. It will help you earn and retain more profitable customer relationships.
Experience 3: The Team Member Experience
Sales and service teams make the biggest difference in the quality and consistency of sales and service experiences (excluding e-commerce experiences). This is why we encourage you to develop a healthy obsession for selecting, training, performance managing, and incentivizing the very best people you can find. Then do everything you can to keep them. You retain employees the same way you retain customers: by consistently delivering High-Value experiences for them.
Collective mindset, or culture, dominates everything. Over time it trumps strategy, structure, technology and products. The right culture leads to powerful competitive advantages that cannot be duplicated as fast as product and system advantages can.
Increasing High-Value experiences for your target audience(s) leads to competitive advantage and achievement of your growth and profit goals. What matters most to your company? Consistent delivery of High-Value experiences to customers, prospects, and the team members that deliver them. Make it a priority and a reality by making it a cultural norm.
Where to begin? Start a conversation in your organization about the three experiences and your leadership decisions (including investments, initiatives and messaging).
Gregg Baron, CMC is the president of Success Sciences, Inc. headquartered in Tampa, Florida. Success Sciences is a research based performance improvement firm that focuses on developing a team’s ability to earn and retain more successful customer relationships. They do that by significantly enhancing their competence, confidence and consistency in managing the prospect and customer experience.
These insights are fundamental to effective influence. To read more about other high impact influence skills and insights, get a complimentary copy of the Art of Influence Simplified. Please go here: http://www.success-sciences.com/artofinfluence/
“The buying experience has evolved dramatically. Unfortunately, sales practices haven’t always kept up. The Art of Influence Simplified shows sales professionals how to close that gap by meeting customers and prospects where they are and flexing to what’s important to them. It’s simple, straight forward and the prescription for being much more effective in the current environment.” –Tony Alessandra, Author and CEO of Assessments 24X7