What’s your holy grail?

As a customer, what keeps you loyal to a business? (For me, it’s timely and responsive customer service.)

Sometimes I think we overcomplicate things. Organizations spend a lot of time wringing their hands, reorganizing, and trying to figure out how to be competitive. Sure, it’s not as simple as customer service. Pricing, supply chain management, staffing, research and development, and other factors impact your ability to be successful. But when it comes to the customer-facing side? Ask a customer first.

I’ve been thinking about smart business and competitiveness lately. Then I saw some information on enterprises and growth by brand consultancy Prophet. They have produced a new e-book that boils down to 3 keys to a smart business in 2018:

  • strategic marketing
  • customer experience
  • organizational agility

Prophet put together some important questions that companies should consider.

Smart business questions

Strategic marketing is pretty straightforward. Everyone is not your audience, and you need a plan to reach your best prospects and customers. Customer experience is a little trickier, but it starts by understanding how customers interact with your business. Organizational agility is the toughest piece for most businesses, especially larger ones. It’s the battleship vs. speedboat dilemma. Big companies can make huge impacts on the business landscape, but they can’t do anything quickly. Small businesses can shift their focus, launch new products, add services, and otherwise respond to the market much faster, but their changes typically won’t disrupt the marketplace.

Smart business isn’t the same as being digitally savvy.

Prophet cites these three factors as keys to digital transformation. That’s reflected in their questions (and they are useful questions). However, I prefer to think of these three factors more broadly as keys to being a smart business. For one thing, being digital cannot be a marketing add-on; it’s something that should be embedded in your business DNA. And this has nothing to do with Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.

For many people, “digital” implies the customer-facing components of a business. But it’s actually much broader. It’s also about how you operate, the types of data you use to run your business, how widely you deploy that data across your organization, and whether and how you empower your staff to make decisions. For some businesses, this may not even include what we traditionally think of as a social media component. It depends, as it always has, on where your customers hang out and where you have conversations with them. Because no business will be a smart business if it doesn’t pay attention to what its customers want.

Feature photo (“Hello”) by rawpixel (Unsplash).

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