6 Innovative Ways to Get Your Business Ahead of the Competition

The modern business environment can be tough. More than ever, business owners need to work to stay ahead of the competition to ensure long-term success and profitability. Below are six ways to help your business stand out:

1. Make Customer Service a Priority

Today’s consumers don’t have time to resolve problems. If your business has made a mistake, own up to it and fix it quickly, avoiding hassles for your customer. Apologies go a long way; people appreciate a sincere “I’m sorry” and “Here’s what we’re going to do right away to solve the issue.” Even after the problem has been resolved, follow up with the customer to ensure they are satisfied.

Customers are quick to share their experiences on their own social media platforms and online review sites, and a single negative assessment of your business can tarnish your reputation overnight and leave you playing catch up. In today’s ultra-competitive environment, it’s essential to let your employees know you expect them to deliver outstanding customer service at all times.

2. Develop Loyalty Programs

Analyze your best customers and stay in constant contact with them. Offer special “bonus days,” or exclusive events that will draw your top customers in, and understand that you appreciate their loyalty. Consumers enjoy feeling special so treat them to select customer events, or reward them with tickets to a major event. It’s cheaper and easier to retain current customers than to attract new ones, so nurture those relationships and keep in mind that those are the very customers your competition is trying to steal.

3. Use Social Networks Effectively

According to a recent report by Forbes, 62 percent of millennials said they expect businesses to engage with them on social media. Remember: These are the consumers who will share their experiences online, so you must be prepared to engage with them on the platforms they are using. If they have a complaint or question, they’re far more likely to ask it on your Facebook or Instagram page versus giving you a call. So, be where your customers are. Monitor your social platforms religiously and respond when you’re asked a question or receive a complaint. Let’s face it: The Internet can be a challenging place and you may feel unfairly attacked by a difficult customer. In that case, simply respond professionally and ask the customer if you can give him a call to discuss the issue at a time that is convenient for them.

4. Beef Up Your Technology

“Your website is the entry into your business,” said eBiz Solutions. A website that is cumbersome to navigate will frustrate customers who expect to quickly find the exact information they’re looking for on their phone or tablet.

Load your site with value-added tips and tricks. Take some advice from the Huffington Post and add features like video chats, short and punchy FAQs and compelling hot-to videos featuring your own employees. Putting this type of personal touch on your site allows customers to connect with you directly, even without entering your storefront.

Think outside the box. If you’re releasing a new product, schedule a chat on Twitter or webinar to generate excitement and explain to customers why they need to invest in your product or service.

Ask customers to test drive your product and write a blog about their experience.

5. Know Your Competitors

Study and analyze the services your competition is offering. No matter how much you invest in your business, you must always know who you’re competing with or you won’t have an understanding of why customers choose them over you. This allows you to continue to differentiate yourself in ways that will better appeal to customers and develop stronger brand loyalty.

6. Have A Plan

Today’s marketplace is fluid, and change is constant. Develop a strategic plan that outlines where and how you want your business to grown over the next five to 10 years. If you want to enter new markets, start your research now so you’ll understand the future investments you’ll need to make to achieve success.

While any savvy business owner knows that it’s critical to innovate to stay ahead of the competition, the fast-moving marketplace can be daunting. But by committing to these essential strategies, you can sleep easier knowing that you’re investing in the right areas to develop long-term customer loyalty.