How to use customer feedback for competitive advantage

A new whitepaper published by independent academic Dr Richard Speed highlights how benchmarking client feedback can guide business growth.

Dr Speed is a professor of marketing strategy who has served on the Melbourne Business School faculty for 20 years. His paper observes how benchmarking customer feedback can help firms gain a competitive advantage in highly contested markets. This competitive advantage is crucial for profitable growth of modern professional services firms.

“Customer benchmarking allows differences between competitors in the eyes of customers to be established,” he writes.

“Where these differences align with customer preferences and behavioural intentions, they represent a competitive advantage.”


What is a competitive advantage?

As Dr Speed identifies, competitive advantages are unique sets of attributes or capabilities that a business possesses. These enable the business to sustainably outperform its rivals and achieve superior results in its target market.

As the modern professional services market becomes increasingly crowded and hyper-competitive, cultivating competitive advantages is more important than ever.

Participating in Beaton Benchmarks is one of the few ways to identify such advantages. The large-scale research helps firms objectively establish uniqueness in their service offering. It does so by surveying thousands of clients of professional services firms every year. The research compares that feedback across firms of similar type and size.

The process of then benchmarking customer feedback helps firms understand how they are different in clients’ eyes. These differences are key to establishing a sustainable competitive advantage, and growing market share in an established market.

The client and competitor insights of Beaton Benchmarks enable firms to direct their search for competitive advantage and improve their brand position and client service in ways that matter to their clients.

Benchmarking for business growth and market share

Dr Speed concludes there are unique features that contribute to Beaton Benchmarks’ effectiveness for guiding business growth. These include a “large and representative respondent list” as well as impressive sample size.

“I understand the sampling has been reviewed by specialists at the University of Melbourne Statistical Consulting Centre,” writes Dr Speed.

“[They] commented on the very large number of respondent invitees, suggesting that was creating a sample approaching random. I agree with these experts.”

Dr Speed observes that Beaton Benchmarks has established a high level of trust over two decades. The survey has run annually since 2003 to collect customer feedback. The large scale of sampling shows there is a high level of trust between participating firms and Beaton. This is particularly with respect to the confidentiality of the data and anonymity of the respondents.

The feedback questions are also well designed to help firms identify sources of sustainable competitive advantage.

“The client and competitor insights of Beaton Benchmarks enable firms to direct their search for competitive advantage and improve their brand position and client service in ways that matter to their clients,” Dr Speed writes.

“I am very happy to endorse the model, methodology, the strategic rationale of Beaton Benchmarks. And – above all – the value to B2B professional services firms to inform their initiatives to continuously improve their brand positions and client service performance and thus create and maintain competitive advantage.”

Or, speak with one of the Beaton team to learn how we can help you establish your professional services firm’s competitive advantage.

Regular client feedback at your fingertips

Use our platform, Beaton Debrief, to collect client feedback and act on it in real-time with our interactive dashboard. Sign up for a free trial today.

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Written by

Marc Ewen
Marc Ewen, Senior Associate

As a member of the Beaton research team, Marc manages our transactional feedback platform, Beaton Debrief, as well as coordinating the expansion of the Client Choice Awards to enable small-to-medium professional services organisations to enjoy all of the benefits that taking part brings. 

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