Whether improving an existing product, keeping up with a surge in product demand, or facing uncertainty in your market or industry, the thought of looking towards the future can be daunting—especially now in the midst of a pandemic.
We’re experiencing so much change in our personal and professional lives, why would you seek more change? Status quo bias and present bias is when we prefer the existing state in the absence of pressure. We value immediate rewards over long-term gains. An example is a business that remains focused on adding or improving existing product features and resists revisiting customers’ changing needs.
Yet today, more than ever, is the time to take a close look at change and how it has affected your customer’s priorities, values, behaviors, and needs.
How you create and deliver value to your customers is what sets you apart from other businesses in your market. Therefore, understanding changes in your customers’ behaviors and sentiments enables you to identify opportunities to better meet their needs in meaningful ways. How has COVID affected your customer base?
Context matters—what people say and do depend on the totality of their current situation. Customer-centric companies truly “get” their customers and are laser-focused on providing extraordinary experiences. This separates their business offerings from others in their market. It’s more than creating a digital presence. Customer-centric means looking at what’s happening now and what’s next. And then adapting your offerings in a way that demonstrates a true understanding of the needs of your customers.
You can’t skip process and expect good results. Often businesses want certainty about outcomes or have ideas but they don’t have a process to vet the ideas. Initiatives die on the vine. A clear data-driven process with a team that owns and guides the process from start to finish reduces uncertainty and minimizes risk.
Data is key to understanding challenges and reducing risk for innovation. Synthesizing data insights and framing those insights in a digestible way, provides teams with a clear framework for problem-solving, innovation, and business direction.
The following approach will help you get ahead of customer needs, differentiate your business, and prepare you for “What’s Next.” Companies both large and small, focused on creating greater value for their customers, successfully use this approach.
Start by asking the right questions to clearly define the challenge you’re trying to solve. Once the challenge is clear, the team identifies the data and research needed to address the unknowns and provide a wider perspective on the problem. Insights from the research and customer interviews are framed using mapping tools that optimize brainstorming around the most promising solution(s). Then design a minimal viable version of the top solution and test with customers for feedback and iteration.
We’re at an inflection point and if ever there was a time to prepare for what’s next, it’s now.