What are you really good at?

Is your organization good at customer service? Or do you have the lowest operating costs in your peer group? None of those? OK, then you are hopefully good at innovation and offer outstanding products.

For a long time, the conventional advice has been to focus on one of these three strategic intents: customer intimacy, technological leadership, or operational excellence. Become a market leader in one of these vectors instead of getting lost in a little bit of everything. This has worked for a long time.

The bad news: It is not valid any more.

In one of our last blog posts we cited some examples of “low-cost” companies with excellent customer focus. The emphasis is on excellent – not just “good enough.” Look at these ideas:

  • Apple is not merely leading the market with innovative products. At the same time, they offer outstanding customer service and manage highly efficient supply chains.
  • Luxury brands can have very efficient operations. Selling at high prices should not have any connection to high costs. Customers pay for high quality and for your brand value, not for inefficient processes.
  • Never has there been a cheaper option to combine outstanding customer intimacy with low-cost processes than in the Internet age. Services like 24/7, online help lines, and easy ordering processes are just the beginning. The potential is huge.

Where do you stand now?

Let me suggest this: This weekend, draw three columns on a blank sheet of paper and write “Customer Excellence,” “Product/Service Excellence,” and “Operational Excellence” on top of them. Then jot down at least five concrete ideas in each column for how you want to excel in these dimensions. The more specific the better. Use this sheet at your next leadership team meeting. Good luck!

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