The business case for relevance
Since pretty much every company out there is looking at ways to revitalise and reinvent themselves, this is a great time to be in business. When customers and potential customers need to get out of their comfort zone, this is for sure a good time to help them.
We hear people do not like changes and, yet, change is in the air, no matter where you look. When we look at the reasons why we are all busy with transformation initiatives, there is no doubt a strong case for customer relevance.
What are the drivers of change? We should look at concepts introduced primarily by digital companies. Think of personalisation, visibility, the speed of response, consistent experiences across all channels, the flexibility of the business model, scalability and elasticity, or mobility. When we combine several of these drivers and bring them to an industry, we see disruption.
By the way, when I talk about digital companies I mean not only those digital giants we all have in mind, but also those digital-native start-up organisations that created what we call Fin-tech, Insure-tech, anything-tech movements. Some of them evolved into scale-ups, some were bought to help traditional companies innovate, some run out of funds and died, but all of them changed customer expectations and the business landscape forever. And they still do it every day, all over the world.
Being relevant requires understanding customer needs and being able to help.
When I think of understanding, I always remember a conversation with a customer who felt the pressure from those drivers of change listed above (what industry does not?). He clearly stated his three key objectives: improve my engineering productivity, provide innovation to my customers and obtain operational savings. Where and how can you help me, he asked.
Many of his current suppliers found there was little they could do on the first two topics and had to face some tough conversations about where those operational savings were going to come from, mainly from the supplier’s revenue. Lowering your price is not innovation and does not make you any more relevant even if you manage to keep the account.
Understanding alone does not work. It shows empathy with the customer’s challenge, yes, and nothing else. We need to be able to help.
The opportunity lies in helping them improve their model by matching customers expectations on those drivers of change, or by supporting their customers to innovate. If we want our customers to be responsive and agile, we must be responsive and agile, since we are part of their value chain. They do not have time to wait for us. If we want them to bring innovation to their customers, we must understand and help them understand what represents innovation and how they can build it with us.
There is business value in being relevant. It opens doors, gets you attention and creates opportunities for margin and growth.
How relevant are you to your customers? If you want to know more about the concept of relevance and where you are in relation to your customers, contact us.