In this second part of an interview with Zsuzsanna Ferenczi, Co-Founder at Bunes @ Ferenczi we continue discussing why strengthening competitive advantage leads to continued customer growth. View the first part of the interview here.

Why should businesses refrain from promoting a competitive advantage with buzzwords or enticing slogans?

It sounds like a cliche, but everyone thinks they need to be a solution provider for everyone. The challenge with that mindset is how you can communicate your relevancy to your potential audience if you cannot differentiate yourself or find the essence of what you can do that others do not. Don’t let FOMO (fear of missing out) define your value creation and growth strategy!

What we need to do is focus on our value creation and articulate it well and accurately. Otherwise, we will lose in the sea of competition. Business values or key advantages should guide customers toward its success, not let customers determine its effectiveness and how it will benefit them.

Many businesses think they could position their competitive advantage with buzzwords or relevant slogans. They cannot. Neither design nor create a product for everyone to appreciate. Instead, they should have a clear objective on how their product will help customers succeed and why they are in a unique position to provide a given solution to their customers’ challenges.

From a customer perspective, these business values or advantages are the outcomes they expect to achieve while working with us. These are the guiding principles that are deeply rooted in their success. It is clearly articulated or delivered when customers thrive under them.

When we create a business strategy, we always start with the customers’ POV of what success means to them. How can we ensure that the CS program stays in that perspective after onboarding?

To have a significant impact on customer success, it needs to align with our long-term vision. By defining the vision and values of our customer success (CS) programs, it will guide us to: 

  1. Provide the scope of our business capabilities or core competencies within a specific sweet spot. In other words, we have genuine clarity on what value we provide. If we believe the value of our solution will no longer solve the evolving challenges our customers are facing, we have two options. We can choose to refine our proposition from the position of strength (driven by our core capabilities), and/or we should understand our limitations with regards to value creation in a changed customer context (i.e.: merge, acquisition, etc.) In any case, we should be always honest and transparent with them. We owe it to them.
  2. Present a solution or alternative for the customer without bias or prejudice. In cases when customers’ businesses grow, mature, and have fully outgrown our business core capability, we need to transition customers to someone (competitors or otherwise) who can successfully meet their needs or demands, unless we are also evolving to meet those new challenges. Yes, customers will churn, but for a good reason since we acknowledge that the solution is no longer a fit for them. It is the right time for us also to be clear and think about what we can do to improve the value of our solution or product.
  3. Understand the value of losing customers. As customers change or evolve, so do we. We cannot stay within our sweet spots or core competencies when our business model changes or evolves. Separation is inevitable. However, we still need to maintain our guiding principles and still look for the best interests of our customers.
  4. Clarify roles, responsibilities, and metrics for each team responsible for delivering success. It should resolve overlaps of activities that we do not expect other teams to do or should be doing. 

How do we position customer success that aligns or focuses on their ultimate goal?

Customers are looking for solutions that resonate with their needs, challenges, and growing concerns. We cannot just lay out certain processes and assume that our customers will be successful. We must own every minute of customers’ time by ensuring that the appropriate value is provided and delivered at each stage.

To gain alignment, we must:

  1. Understand customer language. In other words, we should express customers’ issues or problems in the way they speak or articulate to them. 
  2. Eliminate ego in the process by focusing on the challenges the customer wants to solve. 
  3. Control the process and find out the challenges customers have. 
  4. Share best practices that they can learn and follow as they move in and outside of their journey. 

Any last words or thoughts you would like to share?

Companies are doing a better job of defining a strategy, but the method alone does not guarantee success. What businesses need to focus on is strengthening the competitive advantage they want to develop and cultivate. 

If they can improve it, they will benefit from it in the long run. In fact, it will change the way they think and it will steer them away from the task or process that does not work. Think about it: You can have a great strategy, but if the competitive advantage is old and irrelevant, how could it succeed?

This article was originally published here.