The stakes for customers trying to establish sustainable competitive advantage gets higher every year as the competitive landscape gets more crowded and the means for firms to differentiate themselves get smaller. Sustainable competitive advantage is not only the ability to differentiate a firm from its competitors, but the ability to sustain that advantage over the long run either because its difficult for other firms to copy the marketing strategy or because the resources other firms need to copy the marketing strategy are difficult to obtain.
Competitive advantage accrues when:
the firm is able to deliver the same benefits as competitors but at a lower cost (cost advantage), or deliver benefits that exceed those of competing products (differentiation advantage). Thus, a competitive advantage enables the firm to create superior value for its customers and superior profits for itself.
You can read more about competitive advantage here.
Customer delight represents a tool that can generate sustainable competitive advantage, thus supporting your marketing strategy. And, while customer satisfaction may be simply the ante necessary to get into the game, customer delight can create customer loyalty that translates into long-term profitability. Customer delight also encourages customers to share their brand opinions, fan the organization, and encourage friends to experience the product.
How to Create Customer Delight
- Know your customer. Without a clear understanding of how customers create meaning with your brand, their attitudes toward your brand, how your brand solves their problems, and how customers related to your brand relative to other brands, you can’t create customer delight. So, the first step in creating delight is to do detailed market research to understand your customer.
- Know your competitors. Matching competitors does not create sustainable competitive advantage and it doesn’t create delight among your customers. Meeting expectations may lead to customer satisfaction, but you have to go beyond this to create customer delight. As long as your only giving customers the same thing your competitors are, your only going to meet expectations.
- Know your organization. What can you do? What resources do you have? What skills do your employees bring to the table? Without knowing your limits, you risk trying to develop delight, but falling short.
- Once you’re addressed these strategic questions, its time to implement your strategy. This requires:
- Focus – generate buy-in among employees and focus on creating superior customer experiences.
- Create benchmarks that set standards and measure how your firm is doing in meeting these standards.
- Maintaining customer delight requires you keep up with changes in the environment. Conduct periodic market research to ensure your marketing strategy conforms with elements in your environment.