What's the Diff?
So what makes you different from your competitors?
This is a concept called strategic differentiation and I've been talking at length about these ideas for a little while now. Understanding what makes your small business different than anybody else - how your company scratches an itch in some way that nobody else can - is what will make you successful in the marketplace.
Differentiation Guides Spending
If you don't know what makes you different, how do you know how to spend your money? If you're looking to invest in technology, shouldn't that investment complement your competencies, intellectual property, or values? And if you've invested in tech and it's not serving you competitively, why are you investing in technology at all?
Another way that small businesses can differentiate themselves from competitors is through time compression. You can leverage technology to reduce the time it takes to conduct a transaction, receive assistance, cancel an account, run a report, access critical information, or opt-in to a new feature.
If you compress time for your customer, you're essentially returning money to them, if you believe the old adage that "time is money". You're making it easier to do business with you than a competitor, and it's faster, respecting your time and earning your loyalty.
If your competitor makes it easier to conduct business with them, and in a manner that reduces the complexity or time commitment for the consumer, what is your value proposition? What other key differentiating factors do you have that's keeping that client because - clearly - it's not about minimizing their time.
What You Should Do Now
- Think about ways that technology is compressing time for your customers;
- Think about ways that technology is extending time - like, forcing your business to processes that take longer to act upon;
- How can technology reduce the amount of time that a client interacts with you?
- How can you self-service - put you and your services into the hand of anyone out there - and make it simple, easy to access and use?
- How is your existing customer/client base demanding or desiring time compression in working with you? How are complaints and feedback about doing business with you translating into capital investments with tech to improve the situation?
- Time is money. How are you compressing the time of your employees to do the same job? Especially when tech changes so rapidly ...? How are you re-evaluating new capabilities offered by newer technologies?