If you have a Team Cullen fan in your house, you probably already know, but for those who don’t, the third installment of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga, Eclipse, hit theaters today. Fans of the books and films follow the development with a religious fervor.
The story itself is of course a continuation of the complicated ties between the heroine Bella and her two competing suitors, Edward and Jacob. The title of the book/film comes from the metaphorical situation between the two boys where one “eclipses” the other due to Bella’s favoring the one one over the other.
You could say that the competition between companies for the loyalty of customers works the same way. We court the customer with everything we have in our arsenal in hopes of winning their business; but other companies are doing the same exact thing, so how do you stay ahead of the competition? One word: research.
Above all else, you must have a superior product. What you sell to the masses must be unbelievably great otherwise every marketing ploy and customer service offer won’t mean a thing. In order to maintain a superior product, you must be constantly researching how to make it better.
Apple has released its latest version of the iPhone and the only way that they have been able to even think of an upgrade to what they already have is by always researching how to push the technological boundaries just a little further. You have to go where no one else has gone before, otherwise your competition will leave you eating their dust.
Something else you need to be researching is public opinion. What do the masses think about your product? What would they like to see added? Are there changes that they want? Are they having problems with certain aspects of your product? Facebook is a prime example of keeping up with public opinion. They listen to user complaints and they respond quickly. They are constantly updating the interface to include new features, new looks, and new security measures.
You can do your research by looking at social networking sites like Facebook where people are more candid about their opinions than anywhere else. You can look at blogs, user forums, questionnaires that you have sent out. Reaching out to your customers is also a great customer service practice that shows that you care about what they think and that you want to improve your product so that it can be the best widget on the market.
Research is a constant necessity. Without it, a company dies. Don’t let yourself fall behind. Keep looking forward and asking questions and you will eclipse your competition.