The modern world is always in flux, and throughout the pandemic we heard endlessly that brands needed to be ‘agile’ and ‘pivot’ to new opportunities. In this environment it is no wonder that businesses are focusing on today’s wins. Building sustainable business processes and identifying best practice all seem like costly pursuits in a world where everything keeps shifting. Yet, without a long-term commitment to frame (and keep reframing) your brand around the customer, it simply won’t happen.
Who do you work for? Seems like a simple question doesn’t it. You’d probably say that you work for a company, not the customer. It’s customers who ultimately pay everyone’s salary but they are distant and indistinct group when compared to Jerry from payroll who you see every day. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that processes and procedures are put in place that benefit the company rather than the customer…but this has its consequences.
We’ve all seen how the last ten years have been dominated by tech challenger brands. Take banking for example, for centuries banks opened at 9:15am and closed at 4:30pm making them inaccessible outside of lunch for most working people. Is it really any surprise that mobile-only 24/7 banking solutions came in and took market share? It wasn’t technology, it was their focus on what consumers actually wanted.
"Brands need to challenge the conventional way of doing things with a single question driving them, what would be best for the customer." Katie Cowan, Community Manager
In order to make change, you need to measure change. The metrics most brands use to measure their performance in relationship to customers are: annual surveys, churn rates, average lifetime value. Sometimes senior management may spend a day on the ‘front lines’ to better understand their customers, but unless this exercise is repeated on a regular basis (think monthly not yearly) then it won’t have a lasting impact. Without ongoing mapping, measurement, and active listening it is difficult to understand how external changes will affect your customers and you will be basing decisions on past behaviour rather than future behaviour.
Now, we love a flow chart as much as anyone. Yes, processes and systems are critical to the overall success of your business, but it’s very easy to get lost in functional thinking. No matter how much data you put into them, most processes live on paper, are open to interpretation and don’t help you serve the customer when they are right there in front of you. If you want to create more value around your customers, you need to rip up the old ways of thinking, go beyond one-off training sessions and look above and beyond functional lines.