Maybe you have seen the old television show from the 1970s called “Lavern and Shirley.” In one episode of that sitcom, Lavern and her best friend and roommate Shirley must retrieve a document from their boss’s office before he finds it the next day and fires them both.
They must infiltrate the building where they work during the nighttime hours and steal the paper without triggering the alarm system. Then they have to navigate the way out. The “dream sequence” of how this will go is brilliant, with both of them slipping past guards, hanging upside down and getting out without any trouble. Smooth as silk. Of course, the “reality” version goes comically awry, leaving them in another crazy pickle.
When you think of competitive intelligence or of the term competitive intelligence agency, it might ignite your imagination to dream of Mission Impossible movies or something similar. The truth, however, is a bit less glamorous but very effective, nonetheless.
When your business is competitive in the marketplace, it is competitive because it is going up against competition that is offering very similar products and/or services to the same customer base. What you need is to find out what your competition is doing so that you can tailor your company to do what it does better.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to find out what another company is doing so that you can do what they do. It means that you want to figure out what your company is doing and how it is meeting the demands of your customer base or not. A company is only going to hear from about 4% of its unsatisfied customers. This means that if you have failed a customer in some way, you likely will simply never hear from them ever again.
A competitive intelligence agency will help your company figure out what is going on in your industry. They will help you focus on trends that you might never have even known were trends. When you consider your brand and how it is being perceived, you can then begin to understand the customer experience and why it is so vitally important to your company’s success.
One of the things that a competitive intelligence agency can help your business better understand is the fact that customer loyalty is an amazingly important part of your success. In fact, customer loyalty is ten times as important as the purchase of the product itself.
Consider the smartphone wars. Those with a loyalty to one brand will stick with it through thick and thin, no matter what the competitor launches. They know that their brand will launch something even better soon. Is one product empirically better than the other? In most practical ways, no.
However, a customer feels a relationship to the brand for most of the important purchases he makes in life. The important products are purchased, in part, because of the way the customer feels connected to the brand itself. In fact, 64% of people say that they share the values of the company from whom they purchase their most significant products.