growth, customer centricity, customer experience, innovation, data analytics, analytics, customer acquisition, strategy, planning, plan, operational excellence, economy, environment, marketThe C-suite participants in the recent Conference Board survey of 700 CEOs and over 450 other C-suite executives weighed in on their current concerns and plans for growth. As expected, the volatile business environment and the economy, especially concerns about a downturn, inflation, and the impact of interest rates on sales, inventory management, and the overall cost of doing business, are on their minds. Considering these factors, where do they plan to invest to sustain data-driven growth? Customer experience, new customer acquisition, and new product development ranked as the top three planned investments over the next 24 months.

Tackling these goals requires everyone in the C-suite to increase organization-wide competency in these four capabilities:

  1. Strengthening analytics
  2. Bolstering resilience
  3. Focusing on operational effectiveness and efficiency
  4. Anticipating disruptions

We’ll briefly discuss why each is important and recommend action step(s).

Capability 1: Shine a Spotlight on Analytics Proficiency

Over the years, the way prospects and customers perceive suppliers has evolved significantly. Customers are more empowered and informed than ever before. Customer expectations continue to rise. Customer experience (CX) has become increasingly important as companies realize the impact it can have on their bottom line. According to a report by PwC, 73% of customers say that CX is an important factor in their purchasing decisions.

To sustain growth, organizations must adapt to changing customer expectations and deliver a personalized and seamless customer experience. To do so, organizations must invest in data analytics, innovation and technology, and building strong relationships with customers and become more agile and responsive.

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Recommended Action Steps. To create exceptional customer relationships and improve customer retention, your organization needs to be able to analyze customer data to gain a better understanding of your customer’s needs and preferences, and tailor your products and services accordingly. Take these first two steps:

  • Build a data-driven culture throughout the organization for using data analytics to derive insights into customer behavior and preferences.
  • Assess the analytics maturity of your team, then bolster team skills, either through training or hiring highly-experienced new talent, or both. You’ll need to be at the highest maturity level to excel at customer-centricity.

Capability 2: Unlock the Power of Organizational Resilience

Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic impressed upon every organization the need to be resilient, adaptable, and innovative. Those organizations that were able to pivot quickly and innovate fared better and continue to thrive and sustain growth today.

 growth, customer centricity, customer experience, innovation, data analytics, analytics, customer acquisition, strategy, planning, plan, operational excellence, economy, environment, market, 4 capabilities

During the pandemic, many brick-and-mortar stores scrambled to retain customers. From the local mom-and-pop restaurants to regional grocery chains, these stores sustained growth through adaptation, by making it possible for customers to order online and pick up their order curbside. This new capability enabled many stores to continue serving customers. Even so, many brick-and-mortar stores closed. Amazon ramped up its delivery and logistics operations to meet the increased demand for online shopping and as result enjoyed a strong uptick in new customers.

Services companies used to in-person meetings with customers learned how to leverage technologies, such as Teams and Zoom to conduct meetings and facilitate engagements. Others invested in creating new products or services that could be delivered, implemented, and purchased online to attract and keep customers.

Recommended Action Step: Resilience is an essential skill for everyone, but especially for business leaders. Staying ahead of competitors and rapidly adjusting to market changes and customer needs can trigger stress and anxiety. Help everyone in your organization develop resilience. When resilience is part of the organization’s DNA, then you can build what is known as organizational resiliency and achieve your growth goals, even in challenging times. Research by Aaron Wildavsky found that firms with organizational resiliency are better able to face and overcome adversity and are more proactive and flexible when encountering a crisis.

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To quickly adapt, establish stronger relationships with customers, and stay ahead of the competition, prioritize creating a strong and agile data-driven culture, aligning your systems and processes around the customer buying journey, and embracing new technologies.

Capability 3: Focus on Achieving Operational Excellence

organization, business, customer centricity, customer experience, innovation, data analytics, analytics, customer acquisition, strategy, planning, plan, operational excellence, economy, environment, market, 4 capabilities

Process is fundamental to every organization. It is at the heart of how your organization operates and scales growth. When your organization addresses operational excellence you have the potential to transform the way your organization does business. Operational excellence is based on the commitment to continuous improvement, to constantly be looking for ways to improve processes, reduce waste, and increase efficiency. Operational excellence speeds time to revenue by improving how you serve customers; innovate new products and services; gather market, competitive, and customer intelligence; implement customer acquisition and retention initiatives, and so on.

How you run your organization has the potential to differentiate your offerings from the competition, improve the customer experience, and produce better business results. Take these two initial steps to improve your focus on operational excellence.

Recommended Action Steps:

  • If you haven’t already done so, start by identifying all of your revenue-oriented and cost-reducing processes. Next, map how they work today. Look for and address opportunities for process improvement. Focus on revenue-oriented processes first. Statistically, they have a more significant and positive impact on both financial and customer relationship performance.
  • Align your systems and processes around the customer buying journey and if necessary, embrace new technologies that support these processes.

Capability 4: Double Down on Scenario Analysis and Planning

With the increasingly volatile and unpredictable business environment, it’s becoming imperative for the C-suite to be able to anticipate and manage potential disruptions, whether as a result of technology shifts, regulatory changes, or changes in the customer, competitor, ecosystem, or market landscape. It is especially important to prepare for and mitigate disruptions that can negatively impact customer experience and the success of new products and services. Managing disruptions requires a proactive and strategic approach. The C-suite can adopt various strategies to manage the impact of disruptions on their business in the pursuit to sustain growth. Keep in mind that an agile culture is more likely to be able to adapt quickly to changes.

C-suite, organization, business, growth, customer centricity, customer experience, innovation, customer acquisition, strategy, planning, plan, economy, environment, market, 4 capabilities

Anticipating disruptions is a critical first step in managing their impact on business. These three steps can help you prepare for What Ifs.

Recommended Action Steps:

  • Conduct scenario analysis and planning, then use the learnings to develop contingency plans.
  • Define early warning signs and use data to track changes in customer behavior, market trends, and technology shifts that will provide the necessary signals.
  • Consider developing a crisis management plan if you haven’t already done so.

How to Mitigate Risk in a Volatile Environment

While the current environment is challenging to predict and control, you and your leadership team can mitigate the impact on your organization by implementing sound risk management strategies based on analytics, building organizational resiliency, maintaining a flexible approach to your operations, and improving your organization’s ability to anticipate and manage disruptions. We’d welcome an opportunity to discuss how we can assist you with implementing some or all of the recommended action steps.

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