Column: Don’t lose sight of your business environment


Commentary by George Klein

After a long commute home, I realized that I didn’t remember much about the scenery along my drive. I was so focused on navigating the traffic in front of me, I didn’t notice my surroundings. The same thing can happen in businesses. Business leaders get so focused on the day-to-day business that they don’t pay attention to their business surroundings.

Overall, the business appears to be doing well. A few customers have complained, but that’s just part of business. A couple of employees left, but all for good reasons. Sales are down a little, but that is just the economy. Right?

Maybe. Maybe not. Taking a step back and looking at the business environment will help determine if the business is on the right path to sustain long-term growth. Here are a few questions leaders can consider as they look at their business environment.

What do we do better than our competitors?

When focusing on day-to-day business, it is easy to lose sight of what differentiates you from your competitors. Continuously trying to please all customers gradually moves the business away from its true competitive advantage. Clearly understand your competitive advantage and make decisions that leverage that advantage.

What do we promise our customers?

Your competitive advantage is the basis for your promise to your customer. You can buy a diamond ring from Walmart or Tiffany’s. Each one makes a different promise to their customers, and you expect a different experience from them. Whatever you promise customers should guide what the business does or doesn’t do from strategic decisions all the way down to daily operational decisions. Align those decisions to deliver on your promise.

How do we know if we consistently deliver on our promise?

Sure, problems happen and customers are disappointed. But a business should consistently deliver what they promise. There are multiple ways to gather data to understand how the business is performing. I have found that many businesses fail to gather meaningful data from their most important source—their customers. Technology is making it easier to get direct, real-time feedback from customers about their experience. Figure out how your business can tap into customer feedback.

As the new year kicks off, take time to step back and look at your business environment. A clear understanding of your competitive advantage, the promise you make to your customers and how well you deliver on your promise all provide the foundation for long-term success and growth.

George Klein is the CEO/Founder of Peoplocity, a customer feedback and communication platform. Contact him