Business as usual?
We celebrated 20 years in business last year at CGA, a milestone of which I’m very proud. What motivated me to set up a specialist consulting business back in 2001 was my observation at the time that the dramatic changes happening in business life were at risk of “taking management’s eye off the ball” when it came to customers. Seismic stuff like the rise of e-commerce, quantum advances in productivity through new technology, and the early years of social media. Then there were equally the life changing moments of the 911 Terrorist attacks and the impact of the “Shoe Bomber” on airline security and international travel. I founded CGA in 2001 because I was, and still am, passionate about putting the customer at the heart of business strategy and making every day operational decisions deliver the best possible outcomes for customers….and thereby securing loyalty and building brand trust & reputation.
20 years on, the pace of change in business and the world around us just seems to accelerate, not slow down, and the first 3 months of 2022 make me seriously question whether the old adage of “Business as Usual” actually represents a risk-free strategy for any organisation!
Business forecasting has never been simple, but the global impact of a 2-year pandemic has forced us all to question what the future will hold when how we live, work & travel has arguably changed forever.
I’m equally extremely concerned, like all of our readers, on the likely impact of war in Ukraine and the displacement of millions of refugees on our doorstep.
Our everyday lives are already being challenged with shortages, price inflation and insecurity in supply chains.
And traditional business models that have been tried and tested over many years are suddenly no longer fit for purpose in the face of disruptive digital and technological innovation. No sector is immune!
Shift in customer expectations
That external uncertainty in our daily lives has driven huge shifts in customer expectations and behaviours. The client programmes we have been running in the last 12 months have demonstrated just how fast attitudes and behaviours have changed.
We now expect retailers to shift their offering to a digital proposition. We demand corporate transparency to reassure us of appropriate CSR, social & climate impact and taking the right stance on the big issues of the day. Products and services are no longer enough to keep us loyal. We need to trust brands and be reassured that their actions fall in line with our expectations and values.
Use of the “covid” card as an excuse for delay or poor service is simply no longer tolerated. And yet many businesses are just not responding with an appropriate level corporate empathy and responding to the rapidly changing customer needs in a meaningful and sympathetic manner.
Staff and their employers
Numerous clients are also reporting significant shifts in the relationship between staff and their employers. Many employees have discovered flexibility, some now reject commuting, and many are questioning work life balance. The demand for talent has therefore got tougher, and keeping talent requires a shift in employer mindset.
We also observe how rapidly the demand for diversity and inclusion has now become mainstream, and how processes, systems and scripts need to adapt overnight or risk alienating those who demand change, recognition and fairness. At many levels it is a welcome breath of fresh air, but for many organisations there is still resistance and confusion on how best to respond to these fundamental shifts in behaviour and expectation.
Shifting priorities amongst generations
Amongst the CGA team, some of our children are now entering the world of work, and we see a huge shift in what motivates them and what matters to them compared with their parents. They have grown up with technology from childhood and simply expect stuff to work! They want to work for companies who care about social outcomes, not just profit & shareholders. They see activism and change as essential and will make personal choices against a fundamentally different set of criteria from their parents.
So, what do I conclude?
I see the need for strategic and operational focus on customers and employees as now a pre-requisite for business survival. No longer can you assume an existing business model with survive the waves of disruption crashing though the market.
If you are not taking good care of your customers and staff…somebody else will!
In a world where the biggest retailer owns no shops, and the biggest taxi firm owns no cars, there is no option but to re-imagine future business models through the eyes of the customer!
The world we are entering is all about relationships. The winners will be those brands and organisations that can build propositions that meet customer needs in a timely and engaging manner.
But is a difficult challenge that involves the whole organisation understanding its purpose and values and aligning its behaviours at every interaction with the customer!!
Let us know if CGA can help you do that, we would love to support you!