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Customer Experience

Do You Know Who Your Competition In Business Really Is?

Two arms that are arm wrestling with money on the table. Do you know who your competition is?

Who is your competition in business? It’s probably not who you think it is.

In the old days, your customers used to compare you to the local competition – the grocery store down the street or the “other” plumber in town. Then over time, they started to compare you to online companies.

Today, your customers compare you to every customer experience they have with every other brand. The competition isn’t just your direct competitors, although they’re still there of course. It’s grown to include all of the customer experiences your customer has every day.

For example, let’s say one of your customers and a loved one went out to dinner last night at a nice restaurant. They had a great waiter that really took care of them, the special chef’s menu was unique and memorable, and they had a wonderful evening. It was a big bill at the end of the night, but they didn’t mind paying it, because the food, atmosphere and service were all stellar.

Then the next day, that customer walks into your store, or they go to your website, or they talk to one of your employees. Their expectation is that your company’s experience should be as good as that dinner they had the night before. Whether or not that comparison is fair is beside the point; this is how customers today think about the companies with which they choose to do business.

By the way, this applies equally to B2B companies – perhaps an even more unfair, but very real comparison.

Discover Card’s Competition In Business Is More Than Other Credit Card Companies

During my time as head of digital customer experience for Discover Card, I led the efforts to drastically improve the website experience for the nearly 50 million customers who logged in every month.

As the team and I sought out other great website examples, we realized that we weren’t just competing against other credit card websites. We were competing against Amazon, Netflix, Facebook and Google, because they’re the ones that set the standard for what a great digital experience looks like.

Customer expectations continue to rise based on the experiences they have with other companies, and once they see what a great experience looks like, they then want that all the time.

Related: How Discover Card Uses Voice Of The Customer To Improve Digital Experience

Deep-Dish Pizza For The Win

Your Real Competition In Business: Amazon

Consider Amazon, which completely reinvented the shopping experience, both online and offline. Prime members get used to seeing that blue Amazon truck multiple times per week, because Amazon delivers packages for free faster than anyone else. Those same shoppers occasionally find themselves trying to buy something on another site because the item isn’t available on Amazon, and they are charged a hefty shipping fee.

The instant reaction is, “Why do I have to pay? Amazon doesn’t make me pay.”

Amazon identified something in the shopping process that was required – the shipping – and made it remarkable by making it free and fast. It has set the standard for what a great shipping experience looks like, so now customers expect that everywhere.

Related: Amazon Increases Price Of Prime Membership: Should You Care?

Steps To Face Your Competition In Business

Your competition in business is everyone with whom your customers are interacting. Consider these steps when building your next customer experience:

  • Expand your competitive set beyond your direct competitors. Look at every company that your customer may be doing business with, or a sampling of that, so that you can ask yourself whether your experience is as good or better.
  • Experience those competitive companies yourself, to better understand what a great experience looks like. And don’t just experience them once; you need to stay up-to-date on the latest trends because your customers are, and these top companies are the ones that are continuing to innovate and raise the experience bar.
  • Incorporate the best experiences into your own business, whatever business that is and however that may be applicable. Follow those brands that are doing it really well, and find ways to mimic the best parts of the experience into your business so that your company is considered just as remarkable.
  • Constantly solicit and act on feedback: Always keep your finger on the pulse of your customers’ needs and expectations. Regularly solicit feedback through surveys, social media, and direct customer interactions, and be ready to pivot your strategy based on what you learn.

For more: Amazon Customer Service: 6 Things That Make It An Effortless Experience. Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay.