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PA OPINION

Live from Davos - Purpose in the post-digital era: how to create and keep customers

This week, we're following all the latest trends live from Davos. Including the below talk from our Chief Innovation Officer, Frazer Bennett, on the power of purpose. Read our other insights from the World Economic Forum, including four ways to address pressing challenges and why sustainability is key to growth, and watch our wrap-up of the week.

Creating customers – capturing their hearts, minds and finger-tips – and keeping them is demanding work.

The explosion of digital creates the illusion that acquiring a customer is easy. We see start-ups attract ten the first day, 100 the first week and more than 10,000 the first year. Yet for traditional brand-holders, it’s harder than ever. Maintaining a meaningful connection with millions, or billions, of consumers in a digital world that enables unprecedented choice is almost inconceivably difficult.

Regardless of the industry you’re in, and how you connect to and serve your customers, these issues are real. But a clear purpose and a focus on building trust can help any organisation acquire and keep customers.

At PA, we have a clear purpose that guides the work we do. We measure our success by the positive impact we have on the world - the positive human future that we help create. This means our customers – our clients – can trust we’re doing the right thing, not just for their business but for society too.

Trust is hard to build but easy to lose

What we know from our innovation work across industries is that organisations keep customers because of trust like this.

And yet trust has eroded faster in the last five years than in the twenty-five preceding. In the consumer space, the disconnect between brands and people has eroded trust. In financial services, we have work to do to rebuild trust after the 2008 financial crisis. And our trust in government - well, I hardly need to comment.

The reality is that while you must build trust one customer at a time, you lose it wholesale and in the blink of an eye.

It’s about purpose

Our Purpose is the root of how we inspire trust with our customers,and with our people. When you get it right, purpose not only drives that ‘creation and keeping’ of customers, it defines your business model and market offer in their entirety.

For example, purpose is in the DNA of Water Source, a disruptive start-up looking to rebuild how the world delivers water infrastructure. Their purpose is to enable everyone in the world to have access to potable water.

We’ve been working with them on the strategy, business model design, economic modelling, market targeting, customer insight and physical and digital technology needed to bring this business to life.

To use a networking analogy, Water Source are pioneering ‘edge processing’ for water. The purification of any water source, at up to 12 litres a minute, happens where people need it rather than centrally – anywhere on the planet.

Thanks to a cloud-enabled IoT platform, we can carefully control the purification process. This remote connectivity is fundamental to the overall strategy and solution, and builds customer trust.

We’ve been trialling the technology in Dili, Timor-Leste, for a couple of years now. Water Source have built a social enterprise that sees local people earning a living by providing door-to-door delivery of potable water across Dili. This stuff works, and it’s safe because the IoT connectivity offers reassurance that engineers and scientists can maintain quality remotely.

This example shows the power of rethinking business as usual. Of putting purpose at the heart of innovation.

Purpose is the key to building trust within your business and with your customers. Get purpose right and it will guide you. It will define your business and your business model. And it will let you react and find opportunity in our ever-changing world.

The opportunity's never been greater for leaders of organisations large and small to create a positive human future

Discover why today

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