Is your business a disruptor, or will your business be disrupted by a competitor?
As the saying goes, if your business is not growing, it is dying. Well, I am not sure I believe that entirely. Today’s competitive landscape is shifting so rapidly that change is the only constant, which means that your business should be changing and innovating to keep pace. Focusing your energy solely on revenue growth could lead to sudden death as you can lose sight of what brought you success in the first place — providing your customer with something they need.
When was the last time you thought about your customer’s experience? I am not just talking about the delivery of the product or service but the entire cycle – from their initial identification of need through order entry, payment and ongoing support. Are they satisfied? You might believe that they are given that they continue to purchase your product/service but perhaps there are gaps in the experience. It is within these gaps that the potential for disrupters can arise. These gaps represent both a threat and opportunity to your business and the better able you are to identify and mitigate the gaps, the more satisfied and loyal your customers will be.
Uber is one of the most recent high-profile examples of a disruptive company. In most major cities, the taxi industry is made up of one or a few companies. Their assessment of the need of the customer was to simply pick them up – there was little thought put into the experience of the consumer: the convenience of how this order would be placed, the wait time or the condition of the vehicle product, the ability to rate the driver, etc. And customers didn’t think there was another option, until there was one. Suddenly, one app has turned an entire industry upside down.
That trend of connecting consumers directly to the product/service at their convenience can be seen in other forms as well, like smartphone wallets (which have the potential to cut out the bank intermediary) and on-demand services like Netflix. Consumers are increasingly demanding convenience as it relates to the delivery or consumption of products and services. The catch is that most consumers don’t know they can expect something different until a new option is presented to them.
So how can you make your customer experience better and protect your business from disrupters? It starts with having a deep understanding of your business’s value proposition and making sure that it is consistent with your customers’ impressions and expectations. That unique value proposition (USP) should then become engrained in the minds of each and every one of your employees.
It is also important to review the customer experience through the lens of delivering on your stated value proposition at each stage of the process. The customer should experience your USP at each stage and if they do not, it is up to you and your team to determine what can be done to augment the process. Cohesion through the whole experience creates wildly satisfied customers who are loyal to your company. The experience gaps you identify are your opportunity for innovation. This does not have to come in the form of significant capital expenditures, although it should involve input from each functional area of your business. The more you anticipate and solve issues for your customer that they didn’t know they had, the more you protect your business from disrupters.
Your business and its interaction with your customers does not happen in a vacuum, that is why it is critical to ensure your business and its processes are evolving to anticipate the changing landscape. Revenue will grow when you are truly satisfying your customers needs.