Practically every business owner I've ever interviewed, when asked what sets his company apart from the competition, has told me it's the outstanding customer service that they provide.
So my question is this: if Company A offers "outstanding customer service" and its competitor, Company B, also offers "outstanding customer service," who wins?
According to a new book by business author and consultant Steve Miller, the winner is the company that develops a concept that is simply "uncopyable." In fact, that's the title of the book -Uncopyable -- How to Create an Unfair Advantage Over Your Competition."
"The problem with the phrase "customer service," he writes, "is it's a buzzy catchphrase that sounds very professional yet it has no definitive meaning. It's a vague generality. Your definition of customer service might be (and probably is) completely different from what your customers think it is.
"Yet, you say you deliver great customer service. Every single one of your competitors also claims to deliver great customer service." So where is the difference? Where is the competitive advantage?
"You're stuck in the crazy hamster wheel of positioning your company against your competition," observes Miller. "You come up with a product improvement that's clearly better than theirs. Victory! But the next day or the day after that, they come back with an improvement on your improvement. So you put your nose to the grindstone to come up with a new and improved improvement. And they follow up with something just slightly better than yours. Hear that clattering sound? They're on the same kind of hamster wheel you are, and it's a race nobody wins."
The only way to climb off that hamster wheel, says Miller, is to become "demonstrably, clearly, undoubtedly, measurably, meaningfully Uncopyable."
Throughout his book, Miller offers insight on how to achieve that.
To win, contends Miller, an uncopyable advantage must be developed by creating an unbreakable customer attachment. He cites Harley-Davidson USA as an example. Yes, they make great bikes. But that is not what makes them uncopyable. It is the cult phenomenon that they've created through their marketing and their related products, their leathers, boots, everything that screams Harley. All that makes a 50-year-old dentist feel like a bad ass as the bandana on his balding head flutters in the breeze and his wife or girlfriend clutches his waist as his hog growls down the highway.
"When you create attachment, you not only best your competition, but also leave them scratching their heads and eating your dust," Miller writes.
Want to know more? You don't have to be Harley-Davidson to be uncopyable. You just have to look at something everybody else sees, but see something different, says Miller.
Uncopyable is available here. I recommend it to anyone who runs a business or who wants to run a business -- and win.