How would you like that served? If you’re going to survive in today’s dynamic world, you better have several options available to answer that question to meet your customer’s expectations.
In the last decade, customer expectations have soared and businesses must find new and innovative ways to meet these demands or risk falling into obscurity. Let’s use Ford as an example. A little more than 100 years ago, Henry Ford began mass-producing his Model-T. He’s quoted saying, ‘any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants, so long as it is black,” and for more than a decade that was the only color available. Imagine if Ford still did that today. It would not be a $35B company. It had to adjust to new expectations, offering more styles, colors, and customization.
Disrupt or Be Disrupted
Digital has exponentially increased customer expectations. You can now go online and custom build your vehicle with dozens of options at your fingertips. Take it a step further, and we can let customers’ design their car in a showroom. With augmented reality and/or virtual reality you can immerse your client in a totally different experience, allowing them to see the options on a full-size vehicle as they customize it.
Every industry, from automotive to healthcare, is facing new demands from customers. If you don’t listen to the voice of the customer (VoC) and then act on what you learn, you will lose your customers.
Many companies are already doing this but not taking advantage of what they learn. One report found 95% of companies say they regularly listen to their customers, but only 29% of firms with VoC in place systematically incorporate insights about customer needs into their decision-making processes.
Start with Data
First things first, you need to understand your customers and their needs. This takes more than personas, you need real data to help you make decisions. Digital technology allows you to do this.
Your customers are interacting with you on multiple digital platforms including your website, social media, emails, etc. Businesses must understand and build quality journeys that engage customers and encourage loyalty.
Here is what Gartner expects: ‘by 2020, more than 40% of all data and analytics projects will relate to an aspect of CX, and spending on real-time analytics will grow three times faster than spending on non-real-time analytics.’
The reason for this increase in spending, with better data you will better understand your customers and their needs.
Adjusting to Customers’ Needs, Not Vice Versa
Adjusting to a new workflow where customers’ needs dictate your products and/or services is hard. It takes a different mindset, a real cultural transformation in the workplace.
This makes it sound easy: understand your customer and then produce the products they want. It’s not that easy. Kodak knew its customers wanted to take and develop beautiful photos and their business model was reliable. Could you make an about shift and remove ‘develop’ from your business model? It’s a big risk. It’s one they didn’t make.
While challenging, there are methodologies for experimentation and ideation. But the first step is opening your mind to change, big change.
There is only one thing we can guarantee in life: change will happen. Even if you just changed your business model a year ago, it’s time to review and adjust again. Your customer’s expectations have likely changed already.
Digital is speeding up disruption faster and faster. It’s important to take an agile approach to everything so you can adjust and move quickly.
If you don’t keep disrupting, someone else will do it for you.
*Renata Galle is Vice President for Innovation & Digital Business for NA/APAC
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