What is your distinctive competence?

What is it about your company and your product that makes you special? If you were to change strategy overnight, what’s the one thing that you wouldn’t change or lose sight of?  And why should your customers buy from you and not from your competitors?

Answer these questions, and you’ll understand what your distinctive competence is – your unique ability to add value to your customers. This is what sets you apart from the crowd. It helps you to decide which meetings to attend, what projects are important and how you will best deliver your products and services. It’s your promise to your loyal customers.

Late last year I asked our team at Xero what matters to us. Some of the answers are below. Do you agree? Ask your team what matters most to them and let us know in the comments.

We’re design led

• We listen to our customers and understand their problems

• We focus on quality design and the best user experience (simple, smart, quick, progressive, useful)

• Design leads, but must be followed by strong accounting, smart business processes, quality software, helpful support

• Quality design and user experience can’t be copied or faked because it touches all parts of the business and product, macro to micro.

We’re on-time to market

• We release frequent updates to make things better

• We keep up with what people expect and need

• We focus on what customers want

• We release early and often

• We don’t lose focus on Xero being an accounting system for small businesses. We’re here to make money

• We’re always customer-focused

We’re top quality

• Xero is easy to use

• We’re constantly striving to deliver a high quality product

• Xero is an accounting system and we have to make sure we’re always doing the accounting right

• We have top design, BA, dev, QA, help, support

8 Comments

Ben Kepes
February 12, 2009 at 9:59 am

hmmmm – Xero has the coolest office chairs around? that’s got to be a core competency…..

Rod Drury
February 12, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Cheap carpet, good chairs. (Formway Life Chairs of course). You have no idea how important the chairs were.

John Harris
February 13, 2009 at 3:55 am

If you replaced your company name with your top 3 competitors, would the list be any different? Easy-to-use and customer focused are not a distinctive competences. Every support call is resolved within 24 hours (especialy if competitors take 2-3 days) is. Twelve releases per year when competitors release four is. Every software engineer has a Masters degree in Engineering, when competitor’s engineers have certificates from a local technical college is. They key is having something that cannot be replicated by another (your UNIQUE ability to deliver value to your market).

Hamish Edwards
February 13, 2009 at 4:00 am

Please, I thought we were over the chairs….

Andrew Butel
February 13, 2009 at 12:49 pm

John – I think the list would be very different! We’re not the only ones who release monthly or offer good customer support etc, but we’re unique in focusing on all three of these things when you compare us to other desktop & online competitors.

Being easy to use is an interesting one. Its easy to build something that’s easy to use but not useful – building useful software that’s easy to use is hard.

Ben Kepes
February 13, 2009 at 1:25 pm

@Hamish – I’m jealous – I sit on a $80 cheapie office chair. Have spent a few hours sitting at Xero HQ and love it to bits

@John – here it is, me going on record as saying that, after reviewing almost all of the saas accounting offerings out there, and speaking purely from a product use perspective, if Xero fulfils the requirements of your business, it is the best offering out there. And if that doesn’t get me on Rod’s Xmas card list I’m not sure what will….

Julian
February 13, 2009 at 5:47 pm

Ask your customers why they purchased your product (give them your list from this post). Then see which ones are picked the most often. Remember it is not what you THINK, it is what the MARKET TELLS YOU that is the key. It also gives your marketing team something to focus on in future messaging.

Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain
February 19, 2009 at 5:06 am

Xero’s main differentiator for me is how it makes accounting “fun”.

I just saw that a Xero competitor released auto bank importing for my Canadian bank, as well as support for dual taxes… but when I tried it out… the experience was… bland.

I need an accounting system that I’m going to WANT to use. I’ll wait for Xero to catch up on features, as long as they keep the fun factor.

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