We are wired. We can search topics, brands, and business issues pretty much anytime, anywhere in the world. If your customer wants to know about your company or your competitors, he or she can do some fast online research. This environment makes keeping up with what the competition is offering easy to research but hard for you to compete against. Things move fast. We have to be on our toes, be aware at all times, and make good use of the information at our fingertips (or thumbs if we use a smartphone!)
Stay Ahead of the Curve
We recommend field service departments electronically scan the competitive horizon regularly, at least monthly. This scan should include the following activities for your top competitors every month and all competitors annually:
- Review competitors’ web site for updates, new offerings, and changes.
- Review annual reports, 10Ks, and other financial documents for comments on service offerings, revenues, and profitability.
- Google search for articles on competitors’ field service capabilities.
- Search industry web sites such as Field Technologies and Aberdeen Group.
- Attend professional industry events.
- Attend field service trade shows and conferences.
Ask Customers to Weigh In
In addition to web-based research and attendance at industry events, another way to find out what’s happening in the competitive market is to talk to customers. Your salespeople should be asking your customers what they like and dislike about your services and about your competitors’ services. Carefully record information gathered in this way for your competitive analysis.
Your competitors may have developed some new service that will become their competitive advantage. If so, you must consider developing a similar offering, or you may lose market share. You should also be able to glean a development path from competitive information, which will act as input for your own company field service strategy.
Excerpted exclusively for SmartVan from the new book, 42 Rules for Superior Field Service, by Rosemary Coates and Jim Reily.