For a long time, it has been believed that to gain a competitive advantage you need to have some sort a secret formula, some sort of insider knowledge of how other companies operate.
Today, however, businesses know pretty much everything else about other businesses, since the data is so easy to access.
Most importantly, we live in the age of marketing and customer service. With digitalization well underway, trust and smooth experiences are of primary importance. Anyone can have a website, a Linkedin page or a blog, which makes it difficult to put confidence in digital vendors. How do you separate the wheat from the chaff?
There are several general techniques that service providers today use to gain ideas for competitive advantage:
1. Scout Your Competition by Pretending to be a Client
In the pre-internet era, scouting other B2B providers was fairly difficult. Since most communication happened over meetings and phone calls, you’d really have to try to impersonate someone else in order to gain valuable information on how your competitors do things.
Today, however, it’s as easy as creating a fake email address.
Send out digital queries to your competitors, and see how they answer. Look for good examples and bad examples. Look for things that you yourself don’t do with your service. Look for things that could be improved on (response time, communication, presentation, etc.)
Sometimes, you may go further and actually order a service. That can also provide valuable insight as you will spectate customer service during the actual delivery of the service.
2. Map Your Customer Journey
Customer journey mapping is a fairly new technique; an invaluable one, however.
The main point of a customer journey map is to write down and illustrate all of your customer touchpoints. To see how those points interact, and how they can be improved.
Your customer journey map may go something like this:
Customer sees an ad -> Customer calls the shop and sets the appointment -> Customer comes in to receive the service -> Customer pays and leaves a review
Just through clearly mapping out your customer journey, you put yourself in a position to clearly observe the touchpoints and recognize money-making opportunities.