What a difference a year makes. We have barely caught our breath and now customers are wondering if we can keep up with them.

Customers are demanding, anxious and creative in dealing with change, according to the 2021 Euromonitor study. Customers are speaking up. They want a seat at your table to talk about the meaning and value of your products and services. Customers expect more. They are demanding that your company look after the health and well-being of your employees. Customers expect differently. Your business cannot just be about profit anymore. There must be a social and sustainability purpose to your company.

If that is not enough to take on right now, there is more. Customers also expect their companies and brands of choice to keep up. And there is the rub. According to a recent McKinsey study, 85% of leaders believe the pandemic will have a lasting impact on their customers’ needs over the next five years. But they do not know exactly why yet. 90% of executives said they will fundamentally change the way they do business over the next five years. But they do not know exactly how yet.

Get a handle on how and why, and change the trajectory of your business with these three questions:

1. What is going on now?

A steep growth curve now requires deep insight into your customers and employees. They are demanding it. We think we know our customers. We have good relationships, we have invested in them and we sell to them after all. But the world is different now and so is your customer. Euromonitor reports that “Emerging habits accelerated, and how we now behave, spend and consume will never be the same. So, you need to ask again, and often, what do they need and what do they consider meaningful now. You want to know more about your employees because you are humane and empathetic. Your customers also consider how you treat people a reflection of your values.

But there is another good reason. When employee wellbeing is low, due to stress and fear, we make poor decisions, evade responsibility and our capacity for creativity and innovation diminishes. Tough to meet customer’s expectations for different without good employee wellbeing. Think about what you need to ask your employees now, and often, to truly understand what they need. Change has accelerated and your growth will too if you plan with agile insights.

2. What is next for them?

Your customer is a bit of a moving target right now. If you do not want to simply keep up with them then move to where your customer is going to be. What is next is not about speed or efficiency, it is about effectiveness. IBM, in their human-centered company research strongly suggests that “it is not about delivery capacity, it is an understanding of the value delivered to people.”

What your customer values are changing, so greet them and their evolving needs and behaviours with a company Purpose and Brand Promise that has some elasticity and snap. Be clear and firm on your distinct values and product value but, perhaps it is worth pausing and taking a second look at what values and value you should offer now. Think about how your values and product/service value will be meaningful and relevant to your customers now and in future? How will you embed Purpose and Promise in the products and services customers now expect from your company?

Effective customer-centricity turns the trajectory upward. Work was done on “what is next” adds talent and customers, fueling your future growth.

3. What if we did…?

When you know what is next, you can plan what to do when you get there. This question changes what you do from a reaction to a response. Reactions are often emotional. Although often well-meaning, reactions to customer changes in needs and behaviour can be hasty and ill-informed. A response, however, is considered and responsible. Your response to “what if we did…” is framed around what employees and customers need and what the company can do best. This is agile at its best. Empowered teams collaborating with customers to create effective, meaningful products and services. Think about what your company can do differently and better to meet the needs and expectations of your customers and employees, now and in future.

Your responses to the three questions; “what now, what next and what if” will keep your company in front of customers and ahead of competitors. And that will change the trajectory of your business.


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