In a recent survey, Gartner research found that 89 percent of companies expect that soon they’ll compete mostly on the basis of customer experience (versus 36 percent four years ago).
There is solid evidence that great customer experience has a significant impact on customer loyalty, employee engagement, company value and stock market performance. Customer-centricity and innovation have been discussed in many boardrooms and most CEOs have started to invest, focus and prioritise in that area. How can your business compete in a landscape like that? If everybody is running toward the same goal, it’s speed that counts – but also the right direction.
The first step is actually getting out there to meet your customers. Even though we have been talking about customer-centricity for years, how many top executives have spoken to a customer today, last week or even last month? If you truly want to stay ahead and move beyond current assumptions you need an open mind with a wider perspective , touched by the closeness of real people. There are a myriad of opportunities out there, if you just know how to leverage them.
“IF EVERYBODY IS RUNNING TOWARD THE SAME GOAL, IT’S SPEED THAT COUNTS – BUT ALSO THE RIGHT DIRECTION.”
Three Opportunity Areas
1. Expectations Across Sectors
Many companies know that smart, connected customers have high expectations that evolve quickly. The new generation has a greater influence than ever on older generations. Expectations permeate across age groups and geographies, but also across traditional sector boundaries. The ease of cardless payment in an Uber taxi, for example, may raise questions the next time you check out of a hotel — why isn’t your experience there as seamless, too?
As customers consider subscribing to or buying into your service or experience, they interact with others who actively share thoughts about their experience. Sharing reviews has never been easier, and this makes positive customer experience essential for a successful service company. A hotel’s TripAdvisor rating, for example, is more crucial than a glossy website. The actual experience counts because people share reviews.
3. Latent Needs
Many service companies are switching to new technology platforms to improve their back-end capabilities, often basing these significant tech investments on assumptions and surveys of what customers say they want today. However, many customers do not articulate their needs well, and what they say often differs from what they do. This can bear the risk of financial loss, but it’s also an opportunity to tap into latent needs through more in-depth research methods.
As connectivity and customer empowerment rise exponentially, every day that passes is a lost opportunity to engage with customers, create value and optimise satisfaction. Standing still is not a good option in our fast-paced environment. Companies that don’t have a process for continued user-driven improvement across the organisation are missing out.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change” – attributed to Charles Darwin.
Most business leaders need to guide their teams and companies to a future that may be more uncertain than ever before. The threat of disruption is high and often comes from unexpected places. Uncertainty can be overwhelming and have a paralysing effect, leading to long discussions in boardrooms rather than action and investigation. The challenge is to be more effective and combine a future vision with insights about real, deep customer needs. This is not solved by sitting in boardrooms, because:
1. The Boardroom Creates Fictitious Boundaries
Between the boardroom walls your industry or sector is defined by you, and often that definition is based on yesterday’s reality. The agenda has a tendency to be immediate and inside-out focused. And there is a clear danger of becoming too reactive to obvious trends and traditional competition. But perhaps even more importantly…
2. The Customer Is Not There!
Finding out what you don’t know is a real challenge, but understanding your customers’ emotions and appealing to them allows you to cut out a lot of noise. An emotion only exists if people care, thus you want people to care about you. A consistent focus on what your customers care most about, coupled with quality insights — knowing not only what customers want, but also why they want it — are crucial drivers of innovation. Perhaps what you do could be leveraged in altogether new areas? Maybe future offers could be re-imagined or re-combined to form new, exciting opportunities? What you offer, how you deliver it and the way you work with business models could be more dynamic? You could start to learn in real-time. You could try to disrupt yourself, even when you don’t want to be disrupted. But how?
“IT IS NOT THE STRONGEST OF THE SPECIES THAT SURVIVES, NOR THE MOST INTELLIGENT THAT SURVIVES. IT IS THE ONE THAT IS MOST ADAPTABLE TO CHANGE” – ATTRIBUTED TO CHARLES DARWIN.
Cycle At Veryday, over the years we’ve created a customer-driven iterative process that aligns stakeholders, creating a strong innovation pipeline along with required organisational trans – formation. Our iterative Innovation Cycle links user insights to business value. This cycle runs 24/7, with an inner Customer Value focus and an outer Business Value focus. This really combines the importance of customer-centricity with business cases, and aims to get you out of the boardroom and talking to your users.
You can start in any quarter of the cycle, but most often we move through it like this:
- Uncovering customer needs through people insight research. A significant unmet need frequently points toward a corresponding business opportunity.
- Prioritise and develop concepts around the most promising opportunities while simultaneously putting the business model to the test.
- Select concepts are brought to life as prototypes and financial potential is estimated.
- Prototypes are tested and validated with customers and other stakeholders – both for user experience and
Most development initiatives move through the model several times and are further refined in each cycle. Some companies develop the Innovation Cycle into a system, scheduling a bi-weekly timeslot to meet with customers and test initiatives currently in the making. From here, they often develop the natural habit of spending time with customers to tune in to their needs and co-create new opportunities. Being open to changing along with your customers also means that your organisation needs to be set up for continuous transformation. Future vision, insights and the Innovation Cycle become a foundation for the innovation pipeline and roadmap of the future.
Bringing it All Together
Our knowledge is based on many years of experience working with companies in the financial services, telecom, hospitality, travel and education sectors. We truly enjoy collaborating with multi-disciplinary teams in various organisations to effect trans – formation through customer experience. And we know that each organisation is different in its challenges, culture and opportunities, but also that there are many simple ways to benefit from the possibilities of evolving and adapting. So, don’t lock yourself up in a room with a big table. Work on the walls. Set up labs. Create live feeds. Empower your people. Forge partnerships. Align on values and vision. Bring your company to life. Start with your existing customers and try to be the best you can be for them.