Higher revenues, lower costsPublished 10 Jul 2017
This heading is as timeless as it is difficult. It speaks volumes, yet says very little. Still, the heading captures the very essence of the significant technological advances and innovations seen in recent years – changes that are turning society and business, user behaviours and communications channels upside down.
All it does is sum up how we have been given the opportunity to become more effective, to reach out to more customers, redefine traditional sector boundaries and get paid by our customers – in short, the opportunity to increase revenues or reduce costs.
That is why this simple heading describes how you should approach your business. I’d therefore like to offer up five equally simple pieces of advice to help lower your pulse – at a time when digitalisation is changing the world at an ever faster pace.
1) Set out a clear ambition
Do you want to sell more, manufacture more cheaply, or better enable your customers to serve themselves? Set out a clear goal. Which arrows should point upwards and which downwards for you to reach that goal? Once you know the answer, it will be easier to find the right people to help you on your journey.
You have to determine what you want to be best at and why. Do you need top talent to help you with artificial intelligence, design, robotics, maths or multi-disciplinary problem-solving?
You can always use a story or a picture to get people on board. Do you want to lead from the front or be ready to respond? The compass needle is more important than the map detail if you're starting something from scratch. And when things are happening as fast as they are, it becomes increasingly difficult to look at the horizon because there is so much happening right here, right now.
It’s easy to ask the difficult questions, but the clearer your ambition, the easier it will be to arrive at the answers.
2) Facts beat emotions
Digitalisation and automation do not threaten jobs; they are necessary if we are to create new jobs. There are many opinions about banks, for example, but most of us now know whether “the bank” will need more or fewer staff in the future.
Where should you direct your attack, where should you defend yourselves? What’s the most important thing you’re doing right now? What should you do more of, what should you do less of? Decisions like these are being made all the time, and more often than before the answer is right under your nose. And of course, there is always data to help you make better decisions.
The most important decision you will make is perhaps the one based on a previous decision: putting a stop to something that isn’t working or scaling up promising initiatives. Don't let your emotions get in the way of the facts when you're making these decisions.
3) Actual customer insight
It’s always about the customer, but the modern customer’s journey towards a transaction is more complex than ever before. The businesses that know their customers best are also better equipped to give them the best experiences or convince them in those micro-moments. People like to shop where they find the best digital solutions and the best personal assistance. Fast and easy.
Those who manage to create the best customer experience always come out on top – now and tomorrow. Forget about your industry for a moment and think about who your customers are. What do you actually know about their needs and frustrations? Which opportunities and challenges does the answer to that question pose?
The new reality is about adjusting to ever transient competitive advantages. You could say that the ability to change and think new is your new competitive edge.
Although long-term, systematic work usually generates the best results, your ability to quickly deal with complex challenges is also a winner virtually every single time. Swifter decision-making, swifter “trial and error” processes, swifter upscaling. Swifter communication.
The world will never again turn as slowly as it is today; you might as well go full throttle. To paraphrase Google, “fast” beats “slow” every time. To be fast, you must keep moving, be on your toes. It’s also easier to achieve continual change once you’re on the move.
Don't take anything for granted. Curiosity makes you learn more, leaves you open to new ideas and enables you to spot change before it arrives. You understand change better, you accept it, and you welcome it.
What does it mean for your industry that new technology causes the price of trust to continue to fall? Red tape will soon be consigned to history. Which challenges or opportunities should you prioritise?
Curiosity could allow you to really get inspired. The inspiration to set out a clear ambition to get better at making swift decisions – making it just that little bit better to be your customer. Those who deliver the best customer experience always come out on top – now and tomorrow.