HBR: Do You Know What Makes Your Company Distinctive?
An excerpt from my latest Harvard Business Review article…
Every company has a limited amount of time, money, and resources that it can invest in innovation. That’s why they should focus their energies on opportunities that will set them apart from their competition — that is, they should innovate where they differentiate.
One company that does this exceptionally well is USAA, a financial services firm, which offers its services to military personnel and their families. Given the unpredictable and transient nature of the lives of its customer base, USAA knows that being easy to do business with is critical to its success. Its differentiator, in other words, is world-class customer service.
This commitment to service drives the company’s innovation efforts. It developed an app, for example, that allows military members to deposit checks from their cell phones – a major convenience for anyone serving overseas. Although you may enjoy the same convenience with your own bank, you can thank USAA for it. They were the initial developers of this technology and hold the patent for it.