Five Sure-Fire Ways to Get a Strategic Disadvantage

Every organization seeks to gain a strategic advantage over their competitors.

However in my experience many of the more common practices used by organizations are actually counterproductive to the intent of achieving an unmatched position in the marketplace.

These 5 actions create a strategic disadvantage for the organizations employing them.

  1. Copying others; looking to another organization for new ideas.

The copy process is quite simple: find a best in class organization and incorporate what they do into how you do business.

The problem is — strategic advantage is achieved by innovating and by being different than the competition.

The best practices approach may help improve operational processes but it will never produce strategic benefits.

All copying does is increase the size of the herd who does the same thing.

  1. Treating the frontline as if they were at the bottom of organization.

Applying modest recruiting standards. Accepting minimum skill and competency requirements.

The problem is — strategic advantage is determined by how well an organization executes, and this is largely in the hands of frontline employees.

Treating them as second class citizens encourages them to deliver second class results.

On the other hand, honour them and they will catapult any organization ahead of any competitor.

  1. Managing call centers as a cost center.

Maximizing throughput and productivity. Rewarding employees who take the most number of calls and spend the least amount of time on each call.

The problem is — strategic advantage is achieved by creating memorable experiences for customers; this is rarely achieved by imposing internal productivity constraints on the customer transaction.

Rather a WOW! experience happens when the customer is amazed with the outcome of the call.

Treat the call center as a customer loyalty center to create an advantage.

  1. Searching for opportunities in mass markets.

Pushing solutions to as large a market cross section possible. Looking for lowest common denominator solutions that apply to the masses to maximize competitive market share.

The problem is — strategic advantage is earned by discovering and satisfying the unique wants and desires of individuals not by flogging products to the masses. It’s gained by maximizing share of wallet not share of market.

It’s the result of serving the chosen customer group so they never leave.

  1. Prioritizing new customer acquisition to fuel revenue growth.

Trying to gain new customers by enticing them from their current suppliers through special deals and promotional offers – “With every purchase of our internet service you will receive a free flat screen TV.”

The problem is — strategic advantage requires a healthy base of existing customers who are loyal and willing to be an active source of new business referrals.

Offering deals to new customers while ignoring current ones can lose business and destroy market position.

Take a close look at the portfolio of tactics used in your organization to gain strategic advantage; make sure you’re not fooling yourself.

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