See Strategy Planning As A Waste Of Time? Think Customer-First

 

Believe it or not, executives and corporate strategists alike tend to think the majority of time spent on strategic planning  is wasted. This may seem surprising, until you understand why. The reason these key leaders – who should be deeply invested in strategy – often see it as pointless effort is because their strategic plans fail to meet expectations.

When surveyed only 31% of corporate strategists believe their strategic plans prepare their organizations to meet their five-year revenue goals, while a mere 13% believe they can meet the longer, 10-year revenue goals. Nevertheless, business strategy is essential to outpacing industry competition. If your organization falls into one of the categories above, it’s time to reframe your strategy and focus on a customer first approach that will both increase strategy ROI and overall business outcomes.

A Customers 2020 Report predicted customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020. Furthermore, the study demonstrated that a 10% increase in customer retention levels result in a 30% increase in the value of the company. That’s substantial!

So what is keeping companies from strategizing to please the customer and positioning themselves as market leaders of customer experience? According to customer experience expert, Denyse Drummond-Dunn, executives often do not have the information needed to formulate and put customer-first strategies into place.

IoT and big data have revolutionized what is possible regarding understanding your customer. Yet conversely, the two combined provide so much information that deriving insights out of an “information overload” can be a challenge. Companies like Amazon and Zappos, who have made a name for themselves prioritizing customer service, are highly regarded in a customer-first, digital economy.

Yet plenty of other organizations still lag behind. Digital disruption has sent many customer service centers spinning, rather than being able to capitalize on higher levels of customer engagement in strategy formation. This misalignment of opportunity and resource investment is precisely why outdated strategic planning efforts are no longer working. Executives and corporate strategists committing to a customer-first strategy simply need to flip assumptions in two critical departments –  market research & customer service – to set effective planning into action.

Without clearly understanding customer – and potential customer – wants, needs, and challenges, companies cannot expect to outperform competition nor increase revenue. A strong market research department that sifts through the incredible customer data that IoT provides and gives actionable insights to strategy executives can change that in an instant. What’s more, a collaborative customer service department can provide real-time feedback from current customers and, in tandem with the market research team, build a complete target customer profile to better define the optimal customer experience.

Members of the executive team should be pleased to hear they most likely already have the tools in place to reposition strategic efforts towards a customer first approach. It’s simply a matter of investing in overlooked assets like market research and customer service departments to clearly define customer experience-oriented goals and develop strategies to reach them. Strategic planning is not a wasted effort; it is a needed part of industry positioning and essential to pursuing market leadership. A customer-first strategy is the first step in getting there.