Is your company getting more customers?
Most people are aware that without customers, there is no business – yet there are a wide range of approaches across companies when it comes to ‘the customer’. Some are deeply client-centric down to their DNA: You may have seen this – the majority of employees hold the customer as a ‘god’ and challenge everything to ensure the best result for the customer.
Others, sadly, have a vague notion of customers, know they are out there but couldn’t really identify one too easily. These are the companies that will become less relevant to customers over time. Why? Because someone else will find a way to be more relevant to the customer and their evolving needs.
The predictable future
We’ve seen many businesses who have failed to adapt, lose market share and struggle to remain relevant in the digital era. While the business and technology press are awash with stories of digital disruption, the reality is that many established businesses still weigh their focus and beliefs to making incremental improvements on the model they’ve always used.
The alternative path is to make step changes to compete in today’s disruptive business world. These step changes are of course relative to the starting position, but typically include leadership, workforce culture and more digitally oriented processes and tools. These enable greater speed and adaptability with a single focus: to create value for the customer and therefore attract more customers.
So what are the innovative companies doing?
In a nutshell, innovative companies are listening to their customers – continuously. This starts on the inside of the company where the core belief is that customers are best placed to judge value. And an understanding that the customer is a ‘human’ rather than a segment or demographic. A healthy respect for the power of the customer also exists within: that customers don’t owe you any loyalty and they will quickly ‘vote with their feet’ if they feel you’ve failed on your commitment or the value on offer is outside their threshold of acceptance.
Practices that show up in more innovative companies
The foundations for getting more and retaining more customers are undeniably through leadership, values and behaviours being deeply customer-aligned across the company. Beyond this, I’ve observed and researched many companies and these characteristics of success show up consistently:
- A well defined business strategy that shows how the company will exploit digital capabilities such as social media and how this contributes to growth and risk minimisation,
- A strong focus towards lean and agile practices,
- Organisation-wide collaboration,
- Continuous delivery of improvements and innovation across all channels,
- The use of adaptive technologies such as ‘as-a-service’ that fast-track the delivery of an optimal client experience while minimising the ‘cost to serve’.
These factors have a strong and lasting effect on customer experience and value.
Finally, as I mentioned earlier in this article, the best companies know their customer as a ‘human’. Some of the stand out practices involve bringing real customers into the product development cycle and getting them to trial products or features in development. Being prepared to change the product based on the feedback is powerful. It connects the people inside the company with the real customer on the outside of the company – meaningfully and genuinely. There are many other ways to get more customers, but hearing from them and acting on their feedback is the most powerful foundation.