Blog Post

Building a Competitive Advantage Through Customer Experience

by | Mar 20, 2024 | Marketing | 0 comments

Small businesses drive the U.K. economy from the backseat – but only a quarter of them are built to last.

Most eventually fail.

You don’t want that – so you need an edge. Building a competitive advantage means planning for success. But it’s easier said than done.

Keep reading for our hot take on how prioritising the customer experience will drive your success.

News Flash: The Landscape of Small Business Competition Hits Differently

The corporations. The big dogs. The goliaths. The leviathans who dominate the world of business with cutthroat economies of scale and vast resource empires to throw at new problems in the hopes that something will stick.

You can’t compete with that as a small business owner. So change the game. Switch gears and shift your focus.

Your landscape is different because you have something the corporations don’t: Personality. You interact with your customers directly with none of the corporate fluff attached.

You know your customers and can understand their needs and expectations in ways that enterprises can’t – which is why you need to capitalise on that fact. In other words, your size isn’t a disadvantage – you’re simply coming at the problem from the wrong angle.

While corporations are busy trying to appeal to everybody and cultivate a globe-trotting brand image, you can focus on creating a customer experience that appeals to a small, niche target audience. You create your competitive edge with a laser focus on the people who matter: the ones who advocate for your brand whenever the topic comes up.

The Interplay Between Customer Experience and Business Success

What’s more important – a winning product or a stellar customer experience?

It depends on who you ask and where their values are. But ultimately, the customer journey affects your bottom line directly. Almost all customers (nearly 90% of them) are willing to spend more for a better customer experience.

And a good time builds a good reputation by creating a positive feedback loop. Prioritising good customer experiences builds customer loyalty (creating repeat business), expands your customer base (turning customers into brand advocates), and boosts your brand image.

Building your competitive advantage through exceptional experiences isn’t a nice-to-have, but a must-have.

Building a Competitive Advantage

That’s the “why”, but you’re here for the “how”.

You’ll need a solid strategy in place, and you’ll need to be prepared to fail. Understanding the customer journey means understanding their expectations and reacting to them. It means, at times, accepting difficult truths about the way you run your business – and it means fixing what’s broken.

To formulate your strategy, you need to understand your customer journey, including:

  • The first point of contact
  • The touchpoints until a sale
  • What drives customers to buy your products
  • How customers behave after a purchase

Put yourselves in the shoes of the people who buy your products. What do they want from you? Who are they?

What problem are you solving in their lives?

It doesn’t matter whether you sell coffee or cat toys, car parts or computers. Whether it’s for leisure, labour, or luxury, you’re solving a small problem in the lives of your customers.

Would you trust yourself to solve that same problem? Why?

What makes you unique compared with another business a block or two over? What can you offer that your competitors can’t?

This is your unique value proposition (UVP) – and it’s your key to engraving your niche in the market.

Carving Out Your Niche

Your UVP is the beating heart of your competitive advantage. It’s not just about what you’re selling, but how you’re selling it.

So start there. Identify what makes you different and double down on it. Maybe it’s your service with a smile, your attention to detail, your commitment to the environment, or your innovative spin on a classic product.

Whatever your UVP might be, it needs to be something your target audience:

  • Understands
  • Notices
  • Values

A UVP isn’t worth much if people don’t know about it. Your customers should care about it and they should appreciate the extra effort it takes. Don’t choose something that your competitors can easily replicate.

And remember: Your UVP is a promise. It’s a promise that you can’t go back on because it’s a promise that you will deliver a certain value every time a customer interacts with your brand.

It’s the foundation of your brand image – and a fundamental part of your customer experience.

Mapping the Customer Journey

Every touchpoint is an opportunity to deliver value via the medium of a great experience. You can’t make every interaction with a customer unforgettable – most of us can’t remember where we put our car keys last night – but you can create positive experiences that resonate and compound over time to form a lasting image.

But touchpoints are also where the friction can happen. They’re moments when a customer might become frustrated or disappointed.

Perhaps their favorite product is out of stock. Perhaps your asking price is higher than they anticipated. Perhaps you (or a member of staff) are in a grumpy mood and not your usual sunny self.

Yet in these moments lies opportunity:

A product is sold out but you will notify a customer the moment it’s available again. Your asking price is high but you offer your customer a promotional freebie to go with it. You’re in a grumpy mood but you apologise, laugh it off, and blame it on the weather.

How do you plan ahead?

You map the customer journey. Visualise the entire process from the moment a customer becomes aware of you to the moment they make a purchase. Identify points of friction and find ways to eliminate them entirely.

And never forget that the kind of customer journey you’re aiming for is a loop. Become aware, make a purchase, return, and repeat. This is where you can build loyalty – and from loyalty grows advocacy.

Personal Interactions

One of the biggest advantages of being a small business is the ability to offer personal interactions. You have the opportunity to build real relationships with your customers, to know them by name, and to understand their needs and preferences.

And personal interactions are one of the biggest factors that keep entire industries afloat. The hospitality, wellness, healthcare, and retail industries offer fantastic opportunities for positive touchpoints. The presence of living, breathing people is what makes us return time and time again.

Personalisation is a powerful tool for building a competitive advantage.

It’s a chance to show your customers that you value them not as a source of revenue, but as an individual. People do business with people – not corporations. So, by offering personal interactions, you humanise your brand and create a customer experience that the big dogs can’t bark at.

Never Ignore Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is a goldmine of insight into what’s working and what’s not. It’s also a double-edged sword:

Most of us are far more willing to be vocal about negative experiences than positive ones.

It’s not enough to simply “collect” feedback, though. You need to act – and in ways that will enhance your reputation with your loyalists.

When you act decisively on customer feedback, you show your customers that you value their opinions. You demonstrate your commitment to ongoing improvement, and that you’re willing to shake things up to better serve your customers.

Feedback is a gift in disguise. It’s a chance to learn that can too easily be wasted.

So don’t waste it.

Learning From Past Mistakes

Mistakes are costly and tiring.

They’re also inevitable. They’re opportunities. How you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, analyse your customer journey, and improve communicates a lot that empty words can’t.

The goal isn’t to be perfect but to embrace failure and bad decisions. Don’t fear mistakes – take risks – and use what you learn to build a competitive advantage.

How Branded Promotional Products Enhance the Customer Experience

Promotional materials enhance the customer experience greatly. They create a sense of continuity while giving your customers something to remember you by.

Don’t slap your logo on a pen or a t-shirt and call it a day. That’ll feel tacky and nobody will appreciate the effort. Instead, look for a product that’s built to last – like a promotional mug.

Why a mug?

Mugs represent practicality combined with brand recognition and positive association. A good mug helps most of us get through the working day, and branded mugs remind customers of your brand whenever they reach for one.

They’re practical, and your customers will appreciate receiving something of value – which in turn enhances their perception of you. Customised with your company logo and slogan, a branded mug will help your customers feel as if they’re more closely associated with your brand.

Use them wisely.

Transform Your Business With Exceptional Experiences

Building a competitive advantage by focusing on the customer experience isn’t a business strategy. It’s a philosophy.

Understand your customers – needs, wants, and all – to carve out your niche and create a winning unique value proposition. You need to learn from feedback and act on mistakes to set things right.

That’s how you create a brand that people love.

At Prince William Pottery, we help you get your brand recognised. With fast turnaround times and a product line of promotional mugs that get you noticed, we exceed expectations every time. Click here to get in touch.

Related Article: Maximising Event Marketing Impact for Small Business Owners


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