Every organization makes promises. 

But most don’t actually keep them.

Every year, organizations spend billions in marketing, making promises to customers.  To cut through the clutter and stand out from the competition, their claims get bigger and more audacious.  Every day, sales people make promises to customers.  To win the deal, their promises get bolder and more exaggerated.

And customers make purchase decisions based on these heightened promises.  Too often, what they actually experience is a far cry from what the organization promised.  We call this the “Customer Experience Gap,” and it is a root cause of slow growth, poor profitability, and low morale.

In contrast, high-performers apply fanatical attention to detail to build an organization that “promises exactly what they deliver, and delivers exactly what they promise.” 

Not one time, but Every Time. 

High-performance organizations focus on their front-line people, because high employee engagement leads to high customer satisfaction.  Front-line people have everything they need to deliver, including training, tools, and the appropriate incentives.  And the back-office people accept their roles as part of the supporting cast.

Next, high-performers identify every “Moment of Truth” in their transaction lifecycle.  A Moment of Truth occurs anytime your organization interacts with a current or potential customer.  In most organizations, there are hundreds of these during the course of a transaction, including marketing communications, sales calls, sales proposals, service calls, etc. 

High-performers also build quality control checks into the process.  These include mystery shoppers, customer feedback surveys, lost account reviews, and more.  Getting to the real truth requires discipline and tact, but it is essential to the continuous-improvement process.

Finally, high-performers identify and optimize the internal processes that are critical to delivering what they promised.  These processes are institutionalized, so they can be done repeatedly and profitably.  They are designed to scale, so every person in every location can deliver them every time.

So, are you delivering exactly what you promise?



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Every corporate strategy textbook espouses the importance of creating a competitive advantage. So, why do so many companies struggle?

We believe that the competitive advantage frameworks in textbooks are too theoretical and complex.

To address this problem, SHIFTPOINTS developed a simple 2x2 matrix to illustrate how companies can create a competitive advantage

A competitive advantage is the combination of something that you uniquely do and something that you are great at doing. (High Differentiation + Great Performance.)

To accelerate the process, we developed a list of 40 sources of competitive advantage, along with examples of winners who have utilized them. The SHIFTPOINTS WINventoryTM provides a structured way to evaluate each of the 40 sources. The goal is to complete these two sentences:  

  • We are good at lots of things, but we are differentiatingly great at _________________.  (This is your One Thing.)
  • We have lots of competitors, but we are the Only One that _________________.

If you can't easily answer those simple questions, the SHIFTPOINTS WINventory tool can accelerate the process.

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decide one thing - option one

We always start the Decide One Thing process by suggesting that clients use price as their Differentiating Competitive Advantage.

That’s why we call it Option One.

The low price strategy is always a viable option.

Interestingly, many organizations are quick to dismiss the low price option, “We don’t want to compete on price.”

To which we reply, “Why not?”

In every market, there are customers whose dominant buying motive is price. Above all, these customers want to save money, and are willing to sacrifice other things, such as convenience, features, or even quality, to do so.

As a result, in every market, there is at least one company whose One Thing is price. For example: 

  • Walmart used the low price strategy to become the world’s biggest retailer.
  • Southwest used low fares to become the largest airline in the US.
  • Vanguard leveraged low fees to build one of the world’s largest investment companies.

Geico’s “15 minutes could save you 15% on car insurance” slogan is so ubiquitous that now they don’t even bother to finish the sentence.

Counter-intuitively, these companies are also amazingly profitable because they have developed a business model that is optimized to serve the low-price segment. They are obsessive about cost control, supply chain management, and purchasing.

These disciplines allow them to compete at price points that competitors can’t match.

Another reason that price is always a winning strategy is that tangible value propositions, like cost savings, are far easier to sell than intangibles like superior service. When a client asks your salesperson why they should choose your company, the answer is easy, “We will not be undersold.”

If you are not going to win by being cheaper, you must find a way to be better.

How much better?

Better enough to justify the price premium.  So, if you are 20 percent more expensive than the lowest price alternative, you have to deliver at least 20 percent more value.

How are you going to do that?

First, you need to understand how your customers define value.  Every customer has a unique mix of things they value.  Sometimes customers are very rational about value.  In addition, some customers value some things in ways that seem irrational.  (For some people, a Rolex really is 100 times more valuable than a Timex.)

The Decide One Thing process is one of discovery and exploration. We suggest that you start with price. Once you rule that out, we can explore the rest of the forty sources.

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