26/03/2020

Put your customer first – now more than ever

New realities are emerging. The most effective way to react to challenges for you and your customers is to collect real-time information, taking real-time measurements based on your customers’ needs at the moment. Don’t wait for the “right” time to start listening to your customers and partners. Collaborate, communicate, and act now.

Cost cutting is the trend we see across industries and with our customers. In light of reactive measures to fight the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, not many are thinking about investments in research, development, and digital business transformation. However, now is a great opportunity for innovation. Along with the coronavirus comes a new set of unmet consumer needs and new expectations for products and services.

The most effective way to react to challenges for you and your customers is to collect real-time information, taking real-time measurements based on your customers’ needs at the moment.

We understand that you may be receiving advice to follow a crisis management manual and reduce innovation expenses, focusing on the essential parts of your business. However, your strategy needs to be more flexible to interface with the customer’s world. Right now is the time when you can get better feedback if you accept moderate risk. Choosing the safest path is choosing stagnation.

Research customer experience

A lot of emphasis is placed on companies communicating with their partners to address business impact. However, most companies are not paying enough attention to communication with their users. There is too little investigation of customer needs and experiences. Looking at the situation through the lens of your customers, communicating with them, reaching out to them, drives innovation and builds loyalty.

Assembling a team for customer research in these turbulent times may be challenging. Engage an experienced external partner who will help you get a general understanding of where your customer stands at the moment already in two to four weeks. Your customer may already have a good idea about possible solutions to their pain points. This customer insight is paramount to designing a solution that can connect to your core business outcomes and capabilities, offering a spark for innovation.

Captivate your end users now by reacting to their pain points when they need it most. Don’t wait for things to get back to normal – because they never will.

Even if the insight you collect from your customers does not lead to innovation, it will make a huge difference for customers who see that you care about their needs and well-being. Be there for your partners and end users when times are difficult, and they will be with you when times are good.

The pain is now. React to it now.

Don’t wait – innovate

Product innovation shouldn’t take a lot of time and resources. If you carefully listen to and observe the pains, behaviors, and choices of your customers, the most crucial part is done. You’ll know what they expect and need from you most. Your main objective now should be to resolve customer-related challenges, but balance them with business drivers and your organization’s capabilities.

Now, you need to innovate more than ever – and innovate smartly.

By assembling or engaging multidisciplinary teams with wide skill sets and experience across many industries, you will build the needed solutions significantly faster.

We were asked by one of our clients to develop a thermostat. We discovered that the thermostat did not make accurate measurements. Instead of the allowed 0.5- degree celsius tolerance for error, the thermostat was off a full degree or more. You know the feeling when you set your thermostat but the room still feels cold. This happens because the components in the PCB are getting heated, causing inaccurate signals to be sent to the temperature sensors.

We began the service design process with a specific problem. We launched the ideation stage of the double diamond to gather the options. We applied machine learning to solve the business challenge outlined by service design. After several iterations, and in the face of technical restrictions such as shortage of memory space and limited testing conditions, we were able to solve the problem. It took us two weeks of development and three months of model improvement during the testing phase.

Find courage to investigate. Investments will contract as a result of the pandemic. However, huge investments and years are not required to make changes and improvements to your products and services that will make a huge difference to your customers right now.

Find a great external service/product development partner to help you react, test, and redesign products and solutions until they meet the market demand.

Keep up employee spirit

With many countries forcing employees to stay home, new challenges for the preservation of company culture are presenting themselves. Engaging your employees in new projects and keeping them occupied with new ideas might make a huge difference in how your company spirit will fare in these turbulent times. When you have identified the needs of your customers, you can make an internal digital hackathon and conduct brainstorming sessions.

While your employees are working remotely, this practice will help people to unite under a single idea, and they’ll feel that a real difference is being made for their customers. They’ll find purpose and incentive to stay proactive.

Considering this is unlikely to be the last health crisis the world will experience, it is a perfect opportunity for us to test how well our businesses are ready to respond to challenges. Don’t wait for the “right” time to start listening to your customers and partners. Collaborate, communicate, and act now.


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