“Clear Blue Water” is a phrase used in business to describe the difference between “US” and “THEM.

Us is our company -Them is the competition- however large or small.

The market place, whatever it is that you sell can be a minefield Customers have so much choice Customers expectations are so high Customers have so much information at their fingertips (internet, social networking sites)

Customers are “cash strapped” during times of austerity. How do we thrive in these times? The ability for businesses to prosper in these difficult times relies what I believe are 3 KEY areas.

1) Differentiation from the competition

2) Deliver on your promises

3) Become Customer Centric

Key Point 1 Differentiation from the competition

This can be the easiest or the most difficult issue to resolve

To be different does NOT mean being the Cheapest To be different does not mean giving poor customer service

To be different does not mean reduce the quality of service levels or quality of product supplied Differentiation To Differentiate or put “clear blue water” should include:

1) Offering customers improvements in their Perceived Value of your product or service

2) Offering Benefits/Advantages that others do not include/offer as standard

3) To make the customer 100% central to ALL the decisions that your business makes Notes to Differentiate Customers do not decide to purchase based on price alone Customers decide based on Value for money, Service, Location of outlet, reputation, Delivery times, Personality of sales assistant, Aftercare service, Returns policy, Problem solving if things go wrong, Payment terms offered, Experience in supplying the goods/service amongst a host of other deciding factors. Further notes Who would decide to make their business goals as follows: Cheaper prices but poorer quality Faster service but less accuracy Better Service but between 9-530 Mon-Fri Quicker Delivery times within 5km radius of store These requirements are all beneficial to YOU but may not meet any of the needs or wants of the customers

To put clear blue water between YOU and the competition you need to be strategic

1) Offer ADDED VALUE as standard

2) Exceed expectations EVERY TIME you come in contact with a customer

3) Train, Motivate and deliver Exceptional Service to every customer every day Deliver on your promises

Key Point 2 To deliver on your promises to your customers will make your customers remember you and return (loyalty) If you don’t deliver, they will probably not say anything (although with social media this is no longer the case) BUT will vote with their money and not return to repurchase Point 2- Deliver !

Customer loyalty is a complex and often difficult thing to pinpoint. Customer dissatisfaction is the surest way to lose sales, reduce profit & lose customers to the opposition Ensure that if you have a delay, you keep your customer informed. If you have a problem resolve it quickly and instantly.

Point 3- Be Customer Centric I recently read the story of former Tesco CEO Terry Leahy. His main focus during his entire reign as CEO was to make the customer central to everything Tesco tried and delivered from the 90’s onwards. He refined the entire jugganaut which is Tesco to react only to what the customer wanted.

Look at your customers journey (it doesn’t matter if you sell fish, cars or books) Are the processes there for your company benefit or that of the customer?

Do you hear what your customers say but not listen to what they are telling you?

Do you “know what is best for your business?

If you do know what is best but you haven’t asked your customers-

perhaps you need to refer to the point above?

Conclusion Clear Blue Water is the ability to differentiate your company/brand from the rest of the marketplace.

Key points to consider include Customer Centricity Deliver on your promises Put Clear Blue water between you and the rest.