(Posted by Bill Stewart as originally appeared on ChiefOutsiders.com)

All too often I speak with CEOs who are frustrated by their company’s lack of growth. They know they offer a needed product or service, and they know that they’re using all the tools they should to drive growth. But it doesn’t come.

Oftentimes the secret is right in front of us. We just need to pay more attention. If you aren’t growing as fast as you think you should, ask yourself these three questions.

Do you really understand the customer experience end-to-end?

It’s easy to lose sight of the end-to end experience. Try approaching your business as a new or existing customer. When you land on your website knowing nothing about the business, is it easy to understand what you do? If you call for an appointment, how long do you wait for help? What’s the experience like on hold?

Once someone signs on, how good are you at communicating during the fulfillment process? Is the work or product really superior? How is it delivered? Do customers understand how your company is different? Are your bills accurate and easy to understand? Do you check to see if your customers are satisfied with your work?

Do you really understand your competition?

Oftentimes CEOs focus on a few things that differentiate them from their competitors. They will focus on a few key attributes and a few key competitors.

But often the attributes that companies feel give them an advantage aren’t important to the marketplace. A 15 percent quality advantage may be meaningless in a market that’s totally price-driven, for example. A price advantage may not be meaningful if your customer fulfillment is substandard or untimely.

In addition oftentimes businesses don’t see their indirect competitors. Much as the train companies dismissed airplanes; we often dismiss alternatives to our offering that are clearly gaining traction. You should really consider all the options someone has when considering your product or service.

Are you fully utilizing your best marketing tool – your happy customers?

One of the healthiest companies I’ve worked with acquired about 40 percent of their customers through word-of-mouth. People who have a great experience with a company oftentimes are excited to recommend that experience to others.

Companies can help this process in a variety of ways. The simplest is making sure that customers have the right words to describe what you do and why you’re different. This can be implemented through CRM, Social Media, and a variety of other means. Just giving customers the words will often spur action. Of course, rewarding folks for referrals can also be a powerful tool, but only if they feel great about making the recommendation.

Oftentimes the blockers for growth are right in front of us. Taking a minute to understand them and tackle them can have a huge payout.

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