Customer strategy is the new profit lever, and high-quality insight is its currency but insight and strategy have traditionally been different industries provided by different consultancies. This divide has undermined the quality of customer strategy.
BeyondCuriosity has always bridged the divide between insight and strategy and is well-positioned to drive focus on the customer as a transformational profit engine and core business strategy.
Traditionally customer insight – market research as was – has been a different industry to business strategy consulting, performed by different practitioners. Insight providers are expert at asking the right questions, using specialist methodologies to deliver high-quality primary data. Strategic consultancies excel at guiding businesses to make high-level decisions that improve profitability or out-perform the market.
BeyondCuriosity started as a strategy consultancy, focused on the first wave of digital transformation in 2001 advising financial services and telcos on innovative digital opportunities. Our clients asked for marketplace proof of concept and we started to provide insight as an integral part of our work. Now most projects start with the deep exploration of the customer and build from there into business strategy.
This approach is becoming increasingly popular as brands recognise customer-centricity as a fundamental strategic lever to drive long term sustainable profit and avoid digital disintermediation.
This recognition of the customer as the profit centre brings insight providers into the boardroom as senior executives challenge the status quo and base decision making on sound customer and market understanding.
Senior client executives are looking for robust customer-based answers to questions with strategic resonance such as:
- What are the next moves in digitisation?
- Where should we invest to improve customer value?
- Which customers are driving profit?
- How can we increase customer lifetime value?
- How do we reduce churn?
- Which touchpoints along the customer journey are critical to success?
- What should we stop doing to save resources?
- Should we invest in developing and launching a new product or service?
Many customer insight providers are strong at primary data collection, but weak at interpreting the meaning behind the data and making actionable commercial recommendations. However, strategy consultants and executives are often distanced from the data and customer thinking resulting in decisions that lack customer empathy and originality. An integrated consultancy such as BeyondCuriosity is ideally placed to identify missing primary data, source and assemble the data required and interpret customer opportunity into compelling business strategy. Basing recommendations on a clear evidence base and deep understanding of market trends and business drivers reduces risk, generates original opportunities that increase customer value and drives competitive positioning.
Here are some of the ways an integrated insight to strategy solution can operate in a typical engagement:
1. Customer-Centricity as Strategy
No business strategy can afford to ignore the customer, and in the new technology and competitor arms race, customer-centricity is the most effective proactive strategy to identify and capitalise on opportunity and to counter threats. A customer-centric culture requires the whole organisation from the leadership through functional areas to customer service to be focused on generating value for the customer. Processes need to be in place to capture and act on customer feedback from business strategy, to proposition design to through to the customer experience your service points deliver. This is not a one-way street, involving the customer means being able to establish exactly what features and service the customer will pay an appropriate price for in exchange for the customer value they receive. Enabling customers as partners on the business journey is a crucial mindset change.
2. Consultative Approach
Clients typically find it hard to structure a brief, and it is an important part of our skillset to elicit and interpret requirements and explain the options. We like to explore, deconstruct and even challenge the base assumptions rather than taking the topline hypotheses and objectives at face value. We spend time with the client team to fully understand what is known and what is assumed, and to rebuild a more robust brief that will ensure the right questions are asked to address the fundamental questions. Also, at the outset, it is important to understand the client’s capacity to absorb and implement change. Understanding the client’s overarching culture, goals and business strategy is essential. Even in projects which appear to have very tightly focused objectives, for instance around the response to a proposition, it is valuable to stand back and consider the proposition in the wider context of customers’ lives.
3. Incorporate the Customer and Market Context
Customer expectations are changing rapidly and even if the client’s business seems to be traditional and stable customers will be experiencing the latest technology interfaces and service solutions in their personal lives and are increasingly impatient for this simplicity and effectiveness when they purchase business solutions. Most markets are also vulnerable to left-field players and digital disintermediation so there is no room for complacency. Widening the viewpoint enables a true baseline of expectation to be drawn to ensure the bar is set at the appropriate level. As a strategy consultancy BeyondCuriosity is experienced at looking at opportunities in the context of a business case, with a wider appreciation of economic, political, technological, competitive and cultural context.
4. Collaborative Interpretation
While insight will naturally be presented and reported to the client this can be structured as more than a one-way one-off delivery of data and approached instead as a dialogue, possibly based around a workshop approach where data is interpreted into actionable output in a joint exercise. This enables direct learning and ownership of actions. Over time we build a long-term partnership where a sequence of projects ensures continuous joint learning and exploration beyond the strict boundaries of a focused brief. The key point here is that the most pertinent insights and effective strategies arise from the interplay between customer need and business capability.
Customer-based strategies are critical to performance in today’s ultra-competitive markets. Developing customer-based business strategies is best achieved through the expert support of consultancies such as BeyondCuriosity which integrate deep customer insight with business strategies for growth and competitive advantage. Satisfied customers generate sustained profit by buying more, buying more often, staying loyal for longer, being less price-sensitive and telling their friends about your service. The customer is your profit centre, not the product, so your strategies should always be customer-centric.
BeyondCuriosity is a specialist insight and business strategy consultancy for growth and innovation.
To learn more call Chris Little 07957686366 firstname.lastname@example.org