The breathtaking changes in the marketplace have posed challenges to many companies in how they run their business. These shifts are impactful.
1. Self-help—customers are happy to be in control and take on tasks which used to be performed by employees. A business needs to gauge which tasks are useful to transfer by providing the capability in the simplest form.
2. Informed customers—it is not surprising that customers are more knowledgeable than the sales reps these days. It is not a good customer experience when the rep is unable to address questions. This demands ongoing training to keep the reps abreast of the company’s products and services and its competition’s.
3. Abundant choices—loyalty to an incumbent company diminishes when there are so many good options. The offerings from new players often take the products and services to a new level, making it more challenging to the incumbent companies to be innovative and stay relevant.
4. Speed—this is about get to a prospect first with an appealing product or service when the need arises. Easy access to information has made it easier for comparison shopping. However, customers tend to look at what they could find quickly and make a decision. Being able to define clearly the target market and knowing how best to reach out are necessities.
5. Voice of the masses—social media has elevated the challenge around communication management. There is little barrier for an unhappy customer to inform the rest of the world about poor service and lousy products. Be prepared to address any negative message, justified or not. Timeliness is of essence.
6. Complementary offers—it is getting more difficult to be ‘unique’ in what a company offers. Those who understand the customer’s needs and are able to anticipate complementary needs would have an advantage. This calls for frequent conversations with the customers to stay informed on what is relevant.
7. Omni-channel experience—it seems trivial that all the customer touch points need to offer consistent experience. Unfortunately, it remains a challenge as companies add new channels in an ad hoc fashion. If the backend technologies are not up-to-par, it is better to hold off the launch of a new channel until you are ready rather than offering mediocre and inconsistent experience. It just might be the fastest way to lose customers.
8. Change adoption—the window available to develop and implement change gets shorter. A multi-year initiative risks obsolescence, leading to high cost and potential rework. A complex and convoluted operating model poses a significant hurdle to transformation. Simplification is the best way to minimize the problem.
9. Technology ownership—technology expertise is a fast-changing asset. It is costly for a company to continually develop its employees when knowledge gets out-dated quickly. There is a fine balance between what needs to be done in-house and what makes sense to outsource. It is not strategic to have technology to be an Achilles heel in advancing the business.
10. Comprehensive job role—the tools available nowadays offer powerful functionalities. This enables employees to access more information, allowing them to take on comprehensive tasks. The skillsets and aptitude of the employees need to change accordingly. Flexibility and drive are important qualities.