We write, consult and speak internationally on transformation & disruption then work with Client CEOs on the application of “Agile Strategy” and “Radical Management” principles to meet and beat competitive threats.
Before developing your own Agile Strategy, or adopting Radical Management principles in practice…..below is a list of 10 current trends we consider to be most pressing in the new world of the Connected Economy. Please feel free to use the list to build a regiment of re-segmentation, research and innovation within your business…..this is environmental structural change from which there will be no return.
10 trends to review for opportunities…
1. Social Networks from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram and how they’re connecting to influencers and businesses (pay attention to nicheworks too – such as Path and Pintrest.)
2. Geolocation check-in services such as Foursquare and Facebook location updates to share locations and earn rewards or opportunities for discounts
3. Crowdsourced discounts and deals including Groupon and LivingSocial and what’s valued and why
4. Social commerce services like Shopkick and Armadealo and how they create personalised experiences that are worth sharing
5. Referral based solutions like Yelp, Service Magic, and Angie’s List to make informed decisions and how shared experiences can improve your business, products, and services
6. Gamification platforms such as Badgeville and Fangager, and why rewarding engagement improves commerce and loyalty
7. How your consumers using mobile devices today and what apps they’re installing. Also, how they’re comparing options, reviewing experiences and making decisions while mobile?
8. The online presence your business produces across a variety of platforms such as tablets, smartphones, laptops and desktops. You should realise how consumers are experiencing the online presences you create and whether or not they deliver a holistic and optimised experience for each platform.
9. A consumers clickpath based on the platform consumers are using. Are you steering experiences based on the expectations of your customers? Are you taking into consideration the device or network where the clickpath begins and ends? Are you integrating. Facebook F-commerce and m-commerce into the journey?
10. The expectations of connected consumers, what they value in each channel and platform, where they engage and how your business can improve experiences and make them worthy of sharing. The sharing economy may yet outpace the consumer economy!
No company is too big to fail or too small to succeed. Simply knowing your customer is one thing. The connected customer does not replace your traditional customer, they are your Customer – the same humans connected in a new and disruptive way – they want to talk “with you” not be presented at! If you don’t change for them – they’ll change you…..it’s that simple!
How most are marketing, selling, and servicing customers today is in many ways missing these important customers and thus limiting an ability for engagement and growth.
Understanding how connected customers make decisions informs more meaningful strategies and ultimately more effective and engaging programs, products, and services.
Below we offer one or two “more general” thoughts (of many we practice) on ways your company could disrupt or transform its own industry, raising standards of customer experience and creating new opportunities for growth:
1) Totally eliminate your industry’s persistent customer pain points
Each industry has practices that drive customers crazy. Technology providers drive customers crazy with technical support that often requires long waits on hold and hopelessly complex interactions (“Just find the serial number on the back of your device and type that into the space provided along with your IP address and the exact wording of the error message you encountered”).
Not too surprisingly, this is the type of practice that causes customers to believe a company is behaving stupidly. What practices exist in your industry that drive customers crazy? How do all companies in your industry behave stupidly? Identify these practices and wipe them out. That’s a transformational strategy! Think: can we turn our process or perspective around, to look through the customer’s eyes as though they were the company and we were the customers?
2) Dramatically reduce complexity, hone your simplicity
“Simple” is trying to take a machete to the complex and confusing world of consumer banking. Recognising that banks do an adequate job of managing money, but a poor job of managing customers, Simple has been designing vastly simpler customer interfaces and tools. Simple plans to partner with, not compete against, established banks. They’ll manage the customers while their banking partners manage the money.
The more complex the processes and practices in your industry, the greater your opportunity to gain competitive advantage by simplifying them. Yes, doing so will be very hard. But that’s the whole point; the first firm to do so gains tremendous advantages. Again, a transformational strategy!
3) Cut prices 90 percent or more
Yes it’s possible!! Incremental change doesn’t disrupt an industry; radical change does. Radical price reductions require radical new processes and business models. Smartphones and tablets create numerous opportunities to identify these. Recently we replaced a £500 marine navigation unit with a £20 iPad app that does the job better. You don’t cut prices by 90 percent through marginal improvements, slice at a time gaining inch by inch on your competitors with existing products.
You do it by asking, “What problem are we trying to solve for our customers, and how do these disruptive forces create opportunities for us to solve it in a far more efficient manner?”
4) Make stupid objects smart
The race is on to make everything smart, and the dumber your products were to begin with, the greater the opportunity to make them smart. Think of a rubbish skip that calls central dispatch when it’s full, eliminating the need for the customer to do so or your office to send a driver out unnecessarily. That same skip could warn the customer when it is overweight, and point out that it would be cheaper to empty it now than to further overfill it.
Imagine milk containers that monitor weight or content and automatically re-order for home delivery without you being involved. Dog collars could alert owners when the dog wanders away, barks excessively, or jumps on the furniture. Gathering user data, it could “prod” the dog to go for a wee! Light bulbs could flash before they burn out. Cricket balls could announce how fast they were thrown. Plants could politely request water when they are too dry, or shout out when you try to overwater them.
Take every product you sell, and make it smart…or accept the fact that you must forevermore compete on price and accept ever lower margins.
5) Teach your company to talk
Apple’s Siri personal assistant on the iPhone allows you to have a conversation with your phone. Your iPhone can now access the Internet as well as the information it stores, both understanding and responding appropriately to your statements. Google Home and Amazon Echo are increasingly pervading our homes to control everything from lights to heating, shopping for home delivery to your music collection. Flash-forward two to five years……what if your company could talk to customers? We don’t mean your employees talk on behalf on the company. We mean a digital, computerised persona speaks on behalf of your company.
It takes orders. It provides support. It answers questions. It upsells. It issues refunds. All of this, and more, in response to verbal requests by customers. The toughest part of this challenge is not technical, (although a few problems still need to be solved). The tough part is knocking down the walls that separate your databases and departments. It’s deciding whose product gets cross-sold, who gets “credit” for sales, and who “owns” the customer.
Our view is simple. No one owns the customer, and you either do what’s best for them or you will lose them. But the real question is this: what happens if your competitors’ companies talk, but yours doesn’t?
6) Be transparent – utterly and completely
Think: not just “no secrets”, but also no spin. The concepts of social influence and pervasive memory will make it increasingly difficult for companies to hide from dissatisfied customers, negative reviews, and faulty products. What if your company didn’t simply try to stop hiding, but instead radically embraced the truth? How might it impact your culture to decide that your firm would be the most powerful force in your industry making certain that every speck of the truth was obvious to every customer, analyst, and reviewer
Would it change your reward systems? Would it impact employee motivation? Might it cause changes in the kind of employees you attract and retain? We’re pretty opinionated here. The truth is coming…..and there’s nothing you can do about it.
But most firms won’t recognise this until it happens. Better to get far out in front while confusion reigns.
7) Make loyalty dramatically easier than disloyalty
Intel executive Mooly Eden once asked an audience how many had smartphones, and then how many were married. Then, he asked if any of the married people would be willing to hand over their phone if their spouse lost his or hers. None would. “That’s my point,” said Eden. “That is personalisation.”
By definition, when companies act smart they are personalising the way they interact with and serve customers. Once you start delivering personalisation, you create immense opportunities to make loyalty more convenient than disloyalty: You can store customer preferences, and act on them. You can save the customer time, money, or effort especially by eliminating repetitive tasks. You can provide auto-replenishment of needed supplies. You can monitor products remotely, and service them before they break instead of afterwards.
Think about every major purchase decision your customers face in your industry. How can you make it easier for customers to remain with your firm? Now, think even bigger. Can it be five or ten times easier? Subtlety can be lost on today’s customers.
The challenge is to make loyalty so much more convenient, so radically easy, that customers won’t even consider switching to a competitor!
The time for radical management, disruptive innovation and transformational strategies is now……don’t wait till someone disrupts you and your business….get there first…..!