Centre on your customer
In 2018, we showed the power of ingenuity to build a positive human future in a technology-driven world. And we highlighted how organisational agility unlocks this power. Our research found a key aspect to agility is centring on customers, something that’s been at the fore of our business model for 75 years.
What’s the biggest threat facing organisations in the next few years? Is it the competition? Is it technological change? Is it uncertainty in politics or scarce resources? All good answers – organisations do worry about these things. But their biggest concern is their customers. Nearly three-quarters of the leaders we talked to for our 2018 research on organisational agility said changing customer needs and expectations would be the biggest challenge facing them by 2023.
Now more than ever, organisations can’t ignore their customers’ experience for a second. Why? As individuals, we’re increasingly subject to what has become known as expectation transfer. That means if we have an ingenious experience in one aspect of our lives, we rapidly expect that to be the new norm, regardless of product or sector.
The bar has been set high, both by big names and smaller, disruptive and innovative brands. With simple and slick customer interfaces, contextual data and insight, and personalised interactions, they’ve made themselves super-relevant in our lives. These brands raise customer expectations and provide a new lens for what constitutes a good customer experience for everyone else. In an increasingly subscription-based world, that could have a big impact fast.
As customers have an ingenious experience in one aspect of their lives, they rapidly expect that to be the new norm, regardless of product or sector
Most organisations we talk to know they need to become more agile. Specifically, 7 out of 10 said it would be about being faster – faster at finding out what customers want, faster at getting new products and services to market, and faster at getting a grip on new technologies. They must become part of their customers’ universe, understanding the individuals and organisations that inspire them. This is a new reality we call Customer 4.0.
7/10 organisations said agile is about being faster
Whether you’re an established heavyweight, or a disruptive digital native, the central challenge is the same. You need your own ingenious ways of creating value for customers and helping them achieve the outcomes they’re after – and all this while keeping the day-to-day plates spinning to stay on top of business as usual. For many, it will mean learning to reinvent and reorganise themselves.
Who is your customer? What do they want and how can you help them get it? Alongside these questions, there’s another one to answer: how do you find your way into their world, now that it’s no longer just a case of enticing them into yours?
Plotting customers’ buying habits used to be a good way to find out what to sell them next. But now the magic piece of knowledge isn’t so much what they’re buying but why they’re buying it. We’ve worked with a major financial services company on how to stay relevant and hold on to market share. Among other things, it’s meant looking at why customers are in the market. They want savings accounts, but are they saving to send their children to university, buy a house or fund a comfortable retirement? The answers hold the key to insights about what goals are driving customers’ behaviour, and what the business can do to help.
Data analytics makes this increasingly possible. We’ve helped an airline integrate and analyse data from different sources to challenge assumptions about their customers. By scrutinising frequent flyer and booking data alongside complaints and satisfaction surveys, we built a clearer view of customer segments that highlighted a previously unknown £35 million revenue opportunity.
The customer’s universe has three zones that can influence how they go about achieving their goals.
The authority zone is full of organisations that set the rules, like regulators.
The advisory zone is made up of organisations offering free or paid-for advice to fit customers’ specific circumstances, whether it’s independent financial advisors giving information on mortgages or Citizens Advice centres helping with debts.
The advocacy zone comprises formal or informal contacts who influence how customers feel about what’s in the market. Bloggers, celebrities or business associates all make up this space, along with friends, colleagues and the reviews of online strangers.
Mapping how you create value for your customer means exploring all these layers. Only then can you enter your customer’s universe. When we helped a public sector client redesign their business model, we mapped all these forces to show how customers came to use and recommend their service. The insights led us, among other things, to cut the time between signing up for the service and using it. This helped drive a threefold increase in users.
So, as well as segmenting customers by demographics and postcodes, you must probe what outcomes they’re looking for – and organise around them. Only then can you hope to centre on your customers in the way truly ingenious organisations do.
Global Head of Consumer and Retail, PA
Global Head of Consumer and Retail, PA
Wil leads our global consumer and retail work, helping many of the world’s largest consumer goods companies achieve their growth ambitions and profit targets. He works with the leadership of these companies to create opportunities from the challenges of our rapidly changing world. Working with a diverse team of experts, Wil helps businesses find the right response to digital disruption, more demanding consumers and increasing cost pressures.
Wil is deeply experienced in the fields of innovation, supply chain and market strategy. This combination of knowledge ensures he can advise consumer goods companies on how to drive changes that are often difficult to enact in traditionally segmented organisational structures.
Before PA, Wil worked at Procter & Gamble (US, Europe and Japan) where he led many of the company’s breakout growth programmes, leading cross functional teams to take new consumer experiences from concept through to market.
Global Sustainability Lead, PA
Global Sustainability Lead, PA
Mark leads our sustainability and circular economy activity. His work with clients includes implementing sustainability strategies and innovative business models, embracing disruptive technologies and materials, and developing new products, packaging and manufacturing processes. Mark works with start-ups, corporates, NGOs and government bodies, including managing our relationship with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and UN Global Compact.
A business design expert by trade, Mark helps organisations put sustainability at the heart of their operating models by designing them for sustainability, growth, simplicity, innovation, digital and cost efficiency.
Mark is an associate lecturer at Ashridge Management School, running a three-day Executive Programme on designing operating models. He’s also co-authored The Operating Model Canvas, a book on how to deliver ambitious strategies. Currently, he’s leading a collaborative project with Cranfield University and CE100 organisations, developing a circular business model design guide and researching approaches to capture financial value in the circular economy.
Chelsea Fawn Briganti is the co-founder and CEO of LOLIWARE, the world's leading seaweed material technology company dedicated to replacing single-use plastics. As the SHeEO of an interdisciplinary team of expert scientists, food technologists and seaweed biologists, Briganti developed LOLIWARE Intelligent Seaweed Technologies (LIST) – a category of materials made from seaweed (a regenerative and carbon sequestering input) that outperform bioplastics. LIST products look, feel, and act like plastic, but are made from 100 per cent food grade materials. They’re designed to disappear, either through compost or natural processes.
In 2019, LOLIWARE launched a straw - The Straw of the Future - to replace the 360 billion plastic straws used annually worldwide that contaminate our oceans and harm marine life. The company is venture backed by Closed Loop Ventures, Hatzimemos/Libby, NY State Venture Fund and Mark Cuban.
Prior to founding LOLIWARE, Briganti graduated top of her class at the Parsons School of Design and went on to build innovation pipelines for global consumer packaged goods companies Coca Cola, Pepsi, Nestle and L'Oreal, with a lens on sustainable packaging and food tech. Raised in Hawaii, Briganti’s deep connection with the ocean led to an unwavering commitment to eliminate single-use plastics and heal the planet. With LOLIWARE, Briganti and her team are pioneering a plastic-free future with products that are ‘Designed to Disappear’.