Stop comparing yourself to the competition! Learn from the best


Share on LinkedIn

Managers generally compare themselves to their direct competitors to judge how their company is doing. All available figures are compared to companies in the same sector. Using this criterion may convince you you’re doing well, even if you have dissatisfied customers. All it takes is for your competitors’ customers to be even more dissatisfied. This kind of company is happy to be ‘the best of the worst’.

The trouble is, though, that customers don’t think that way. A customer doesn’t compare his bank to other banks. Customers don’t compare the service offered by different telecom players; after all, you’re only a customer with one of them, so how do you make a proper comparison? No, as a customer you compare your bank with your telecom provider, your energy supplier and almost every other company whose products or services you’re buying. That is why people don’t think twice about comparing a hotel to, say, their energy supplier.

Compare yourself to the best

Companies rarely think outside of their own little sector. Some will blame the sector for just about anything. ‘We work in a conservative sector’. ‘Customers in our sector are not looking for progress’. ‘Our sector is just that little bit more complex than others’. From a consumer standpoint, though, a different approach would be better.

Companies should learn from the best. Find the best company in the world with regard to customer experience and follow their example. Find out who the expert in innovation is and analyze their approach. Track those companies with an insanely high NPS and ask them how they did it. By setting your sights on the best you can keep from settling for a negative NPS.

A good manager is able to adapt the approach of the most successful companies to his own environment because it’s obviously pointless to imitate someone else’s approach. The point is to learn what you can and develop a suitable application for your own organization. A manager who only draws inspiration from inside his own sector is probably not creative enough.

Jef Bezos, CEO of, says: ‘You should fear your customers instead of the competition because it’s the customer who pays us’. The customer compares our performance to that of the best companies so we have an obligation of looking at ourselves in the same manner.

5 tips on how to learn from the best

1. Ask for your customers’ help

If you want to be sure that ideas suit your own company and sector, it’s very useful to involve your customers as well as your own staff. Since the customer is more demanding, his expertise comes in handy.

2. Have staff look for examples

Have your staff look for inspiring cases outside your own sector or industry and always ask them how they would translate each case into the context of your company. If everyone looked at the world this way, the possibilities would be endless.

3. The world is a safari

From now on, if you move through the world as if you’re on safari, you will be amazed by how many things are able to inspire you. Everywhere you go, look for details that may or may not make all the difference. Look for things that are surprising, both in a positive and in a negative way. Take a picture whenever something strikes you and add it to your own inspirational collection. Consult that collection when you’re devising a strategy and you will be impressed by the sheer number of ideas it contains.

4.Hire trainers from another industry

Hire business trainers from different industries. If you want to be great in customer service, hire trainers from the Ritz Carlton. If you want to be really standardized in your processes, learn from McDonalds. Most companies focus so much on their own industry that the innovation scope becomes really small.

5. Visit inspiring companies

Make time in your agenda to visit other companies. See what makes them special. If you read an interesting article of a company you don’t know, try to get in touch with them. When possible, invest time in visiting them. If you make a habit from it, you will be surprised about the amount of small and big ideas you will get.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steven Van Belleghem
Steven Van Belleghem is inspirator at B-Conversational. He is an inspirator, a coach and gives strategic advice to help companies better understand the world of conversations, social media and digital marketing. In 2010, he published his first book The Conversation Manager, which became a management literature bestseller and was awarded with the Marketing Literature Prize. In 2012, The Conversation Company was published. Steven is also part time Marketing Professor at the Vlerick Management School. He is a former managing partner of the innovative research agency InSites Consulting.


  1. …according to H. James Harrington, Ph.D., and one of the world experts in TQM and performance improvement. In a presentation he gave at an ASQ Quality Conference several years ago, Dr. Harrington, who has authored over 30 books on this subject and was the world TQ leader for Ernst & Young, said that if a company is better than all others in an industry, but that all other companies perform at average, even mediocre, levels – then the best that company can be is better than mediocre or better than average. From Dr. Harrington’s perspective, that isn’t nearly good enough. For a company to have world-class performance, it must measure itself aganst the best and most producxtive organizations, irrespective of industry. As someone in attendance at that presentation, I’ve never forgotten the advice and guidance he offered that day.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here