How will tomorrow’s leaders win the battle against their competition? Aside from being adaptable, can the battles be won if businesses continue the focus on customers? Will the business world still favor speed in the future? For answers to these questions, I sat down with Deborah Gardner, award-winning athlete, recognized author, and competitive performance expert to learn more. Our interview highlights follow.
Q: Will customer focus be enough to keep the competition at bay for tomorrow’s business leaders?
Ms. Gardner – Customer focus is the place to start. According to a study by The Wharton School, stakes are high as reducing customer attrition by 5 to 10 percent can increase annual profits as much as 75%. The take away: invest in your customer programs and service groups. They can be the first face or voice your customers reach and the reason your customers stay.
Q: How can tomorrow’s leaders identify trends that will change the game early, so you can quickly build on their momentum?
Ms. Gardner – Great question, here are four tactics that are working well and can stand the test of time:
1. Expand your services – this will make it harder for customers to move and counter any balance of power opportunities your team may encounter.
2. Leverage technology – the business world will continue to reward speed and abundance. Tap into the latest technology that can speed up your entry to market. A good example from manufacturing is the 3-D printing capability which is revolutionizing one of the nation’s oldest industries.
3. Raise the price of admission – keep new competing businesses out of your targeted area by investing in research and development or other areas that directly add value to your offerings while leveling the playing field.
4. Increase potential supplier base – move away from customization towards standardization when possible. This can open the door across several vendors/suppliers versus a select few.
Which strategy or tips will you embrace in the next 10 days that will slow the competitions progress?
Interested in reading more on this important subject? Take a look at: "The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business", written by Rita Gunther McGrath, professor at Columbia University. Professor McGrath explains why it's time to challenge the established thinking around strategy and competition to drive business advantage.