No Investment, No Growth!

There will always be a certain amount of risk and anxiety when it comes to developing new strategies. But it seems that the terror of another global crisis led the majority of the companies to stop developing growth strategies. Business leaders are completely risk adverse, massive amounts of cash are piling up, M&A diminished 14% globally since 2008, and stock buybacks just continue to increase.

In reality, business leaders always had to face uncertainty, knowing that if money is not invested… growth, expansion, and innovation just don’t happen!! However, they are doing nothing and nothing is just a terrible decision. Especially nowadays, when the market change rate is accelerating and products and services go from new to completely obsolete in less than 6 years (See the case of the first generation iPhone declared obsolete last June).

Likewise, companies can grow their markets like never before. One example is Samsung, “the world’s largest technology company by revenue” who entered the global smartphone market and conquered it (almost) in just 3 years. Competition isn’t confined to the industry leaders anymore – it can come from the smallest garage start up or from an international company.

“Business leaders can anticipate change” by understanding that uncertainty is unfamiliarity. This means that old ways can be adjusted and new methods acquired. The example provided by Bain is an extreme eye-opener. A couple of years ago everyone believed that money was scarce and talent was abundant. Today, businesses lack talent and that situation could change into a shortage of 95 million people by the end of the decade.

Bain finishes the article with a clever mnemonic, stating that what is needed is an “A” game: one that’s alert, agile and able to move with alacrity.

After reading the article, we at Proto Partners, questioned something that we consider essential. How can your company create innovative strategies that allow you to grow without knowing what your customers need? Well, you simply can’t! If you look carefully to what the biggest companies in all industry segments are doing, you see that they are focusing their attention on their customers, anticipating their needs and delivering outstanding customer experiences. They know that innovation and success become possible when they have feasible technology, it is economically viable and finally also desirable by the customer.

Read more here.

How to Deal with Difficult Customers

Customers can be really difficult sometimes. Sure, it would be great if we could just make those customers just disappear…but that’s just unrealistic. Unsatisfied customers are extremely likely to spread their frustrations faster than you could ever hope to keep them quiet especially in this age of easy web access.

Instead of treating these difficult customers as a burden, try seeing it as a business opportunity for change. Negative customer feedback should always be taken as areas of growth. In a 1to1media article, it is pointed out that some companies actually “seek to understand what issues consumers keep encountering so they can adjust their approach and improve the customer experience for all.” Imagine that! Companies that are actually interested in what you the customer, is frustrated with!

Ok so how should you deal with “difficult” customers?

  1. Address their concerns: First and foremost, when customers are facing difficulties with your company, they want to feel acknowledged. Customers want to know that they are important and that their concerns will be addressed. By addressing customer concerns, you show that you are taking responsibility over it. Rather than patching up a common issue, “brands must look to the primary causes if they hope to rectify the situation.”

  2. Always put the customer first: This might be a difficult one for some because this means that no matter what cost and no matter what choice the customer may make in the end, their interests come first. There will be times when a customer will chose your competitor over you. Instead of leaving them with a bad taste in their mouth, make the customer’s experience with you a positive one, until the very end. Being extremely honest with your customers about where they can find better priced or better suiting plans/products will result in raving fans who will tell your story for years even though they aren’t exactly “with” you. That is far more valuable than an unhappy customer kept with a dishonest company that cannot provide what they desire.
  3. Don’t forget your internal customers: By internal customers, we mean your employees. Your employees are just as valuable as your external (end) customers for they are what makes your company work. They are the frontline staff and the “face” of the company. The morale of these internal customers are especially important since they communicate this throughout the organisation through their work. Therefore, support your staff while they deal with difficult customers especially when they are confronted with abusive behaviour. This will encourage “them to advocate for the brand and offer superior customer service, as they can rest assured that the company at hand is certainly one for which they want to work.”

Read the 1to1media article here. 

Forrester’s 2013 Customer Experience Predictions

As the significance on the customer experience increasingly grows Forrester has revealed predicted trends for 2013 that will help companies to avoid mistakes and get ahead in 2013.

In the report, Kerry Bodine predicts that customer experience professionals will seek to engage employees. At Proto Partners, we believe that the people in your organization can affect a customer’s view on your brand completely; this is especially true with service-based companies. Without strong service principles and training, your staff is left without any direction and the way they deliver your organisation’s service is based purely on interpretation. Therefore engaging employees in your customer experience is crucial and hopefully more companies will catch on to this predicted trend this year.

It is also predicted that emotional insights will take center stage and that marketers will mistake messaging for experience improvements. Without customer feedback or considering the emotional journey of the customer with your company, your customer experience will be lacking a human touch leading to a detachment from your brand. Attracting and keeping your customers is obviously important to any organization and to put them at the center of your strategy will ultimately result in financial returns. However, improving the customer experience is not to be mistakenly achieved by short-term initiatives like “whitewashing campaigns created to cover up experience blunders” as Kerry puts it.

To read more, click here.