5 best practices to future-safe your business and grow organically
June 24, 2014
An article on the Business Times last Friday, 20th June ("Lack of online services a deal breaker for HNWIs") underscores the need to know your customer. But that is not all. The speed of changing needs and wants has taken many companies by surprise; what used to work just 2-3 years ago, may now be woefully inadequate. In a time when millionaires are minted almost overnight, there is a need to react to changing needs almost as instaneously. So in this article, we identify the 5 best practices to up your customer experience management. Let's see how well you meet with that...
1. Psychographic segmentation
Where once we segmented by demographic (gender, age, height, weight, eye color, hair color, education level, housing type, level of income, etc) factors, we now need to segment our customers by psychographic ones. These include lifestyle factors like values, beliefs, opinions and interests; and behaviour factors like knowledge, attitudes and responses. By segmenting psychographically, we can see that the one-size-fits-all solution might not be totally effective. Like in the BT article above, high net worth individuals (HNWIs) expect to be able to start a transaction from one channel and move across other channels to complete it. By segmenting your services along these lines of interest, values, knowledge, experience and lifestyle, you can overcome many of the bugbears that currently afflict demographic-based segmentation. So the question here is: "Do you know the likes and dislikes of your customers?"
2. Ethnographic studies
This brings us to the next best practise - ethnography. Ethnographic studies involve us seeing how customers interact with your products and services in their natural setting and from their point of view. Case in point: a useless HNWI banking app. This story was recounted to me by a senior officer of a bank: in its bid to cater to the HNWIs, this particular bank created a super-app that integrated all the bank's functions under one roof. It works out of a tablet and gives all the information that the client would ever want on a single dashboard. When the bank handed the platform to their clients to use, most of them rejected it. They said it was too complicated. They had to click through a lot to get to what they wanted, even if it was on the same platform. They commented, "I actually only want one button to press!" That platform, after spending millions of dollars to develop, was shelved. Why? Because it was built on the premises of bank officers postulating what they thought their clients needed, and not on what the clients themselves actually did. If you want to create an exceptional customer experience for your clients, see how they are interacting with your products and services and alleviate their pain points from there!
3. Nimble business processes
In this age of great change, companies' processes need to be able to change as fast. There is a need to create modular processes that can slide in place to make things happen, rather than to build a robust process that is so rigid that, by the time it is operational, is already obsolete. Coming back to the point that we now literally have overnight millionaires who really don't know how to manage their money or deal with the sudden change in lifestyle, companies who hope to make them their clients must also be able to up-end their current "lifestyle" and keep up with the pace of change. They therefore need nimble processes, a plug-and-play style of making things happen. Obviously there will be less control in these environments, but they trade that for speed. And relevance. The obvious question here is, "Are your processes designed to navigate the rapids of changing expectations?"
4. Customer of one
Imagine a market where products and services were designed and produced totally for you; how would that make you feel? In a world of mass-market anonymity, this will surely stand out for exceptional value for you. Welcome to the concept of the "Customer Of One" (COO). It is not that business will have only one customer, but that each product or service has been designed and produced for this singular customer. And I am not referring to high-end bespoke services; it is really for the mass-market products! How can this happen? Well, it is actually happening already. From custom vacations to individual meal packs, customers are now co-creating their products and services with mass-market producers, embracing the COO concept. Customer co-creation is a big deal that will only get bigger. If you are shutting out your customers in your R&D efforts, you are only paving the way to an expensive obsolescence. The question you need to ask is, "How can I make my mass market product a COO?"
The future of all businesses are the Millennials (those born after 1980). According to a report by the Centre of American Progress, by 2020, 39% of eligible voters in the US will be Millennials. In other words, in 6 years' time, 2 out of every 5 of your customers will have grown up with the Internet, got all the information at their fingertips, look to find products and services to look and feel good, and strive for high ideals. They will want to make their thoughts known to the world, and expect to be treated as equals, not the new kids on the block. To be future-focused, you must speak their language, be found through their means, engage them through their value system. If you are still delivering 1980s style solutions in this 21st century world, you will very quickly become obsolete (if you are not already!) The question you need to ask yourself is, "Do I think, talk and transact like a Millennial?"