What Businesses Can Do Today To Adapt In A Changing Customer Environment


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Customer experience is all about understanding and responding to customer and employee expectations in ways that drive business results. But in today’s — and likely tomorrow’s — world, your customers’ and employees’ needs and expectations are likely evolving in new, rapid and sometimes surprising ways. As a result, businesses need to respond rapidly as well, in many cases with greater risk and access to fewer resources.

I’ve been hearing the phrase “in these uncertain times” far too often. After all, the future has always been a bit uncertain. The reality is that regardless of your business or sector, you need to understand how you, your customers and your people are being affected — and use this knowledge to plan and act accordingly.

With that, here are five things you can do today to help you act proactively, intelligently and decisively right now, as well as five actions to help you anticipate the future, because tomorrow will be here sooner than we imagine.

Today: Be proactive.

  • Communicate. Actively provide relevant information (safety, support, delivery, etc.) to your customers and your people.
  • Empower teams. Arm your teams with access to the information they need to proactively communicate with and respond to customer concerns.
  • Assess your customer experience. Review your end-to-end experience to find, prioritize, and close any gaps or remove pain points.
  • Listen to your customers. Assess and tune your listening capabilities to deeply understand and swiftly respond to changing customer needs.
  • Understand changing journeys. Identify changes in attitudes and importance across customer journeys and touch points, and prepare for the potential shifts you’ll need to make.
  • Tomorrow: Anticipate the future.

  • Prepare to act. Recognize that your future may be different from the past, so accelerate your ability to assess and react to changes across your business.
  • Plan for shifts. As must-haves end up replacing nice-to-haves, your organizational priorities, resources and business models will shift, as will customer behaviors and attitudes.
  • Prepare for transitions. Plan for needed employee and customer transitions as offices reopen, commerce accelerates and life resumes
  • Accelerate digital transformation. Most companies have started this, but today it’s more important than ever as “digital first but not digital only” interactions accelerate.
  • Identify new opportunities. In times of great change, great opportunities abound. Find, prioritize and act on them.
  • For the near future at least, businesses have smaller margins for failure and more opportunities to fail, with identifiable ROI remaining a required outcome of any investments. Today, more than ever, it’s important to plan a path forward through an uncertain future. The challenge is that it can’t be addressed with a single plan. You’ll need multiple scenarios to continuously review, prioritize, detail and activate as things become clearer. From a focus on quick fixes that you can activate and collect benefits from immediately to the adoption of systemic change like more agile business models, now is the time to act. By moving quickly and in an informed, customer- and employee-centric manner, you can identify and mitigate risk and embrace opportunity — both of which are at hand — as you develop and deliver on your plans for the future.

    First appeared on Forbes, July 2020


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