Now not to devolve this initial post into a psychological/sociological session (as I did preface my statement with “in general”) – but it has been noted that children are born with a fundamentally natural curiosity for seeking out new situations and also commit themselves to various bouts of experimentation. But as one gets older, that curiosity seems to wane as people get comfortable where they find themselves and how they live their lives.
This seems to apply for business as well – if you produce a product or service and happen to do it well, a lot of business leaders become comfortable at staying within that specific area or niche. It seems logical to stay within your comfort zone – but can also signal the start of the decline of your company.
Accelerated by what has been dubbed by the media as “The Age of the Internet” (as mystical as some may try to make it may seem), companies are learning that the credo of “evolve or die” has become more than just a mantra of doing business and is a statement of fact and survival going forward.
For every change in the way that Facebook alters the layout for their homepage or adjusts the algorithm to show what posts are displayed, it is done in the name of evolution to keep the website at the forefront and from growing stale or irrelevant (even though there are several areas where Mark Zuckerberg could instantly improve the experience for his users in the short-term — namely “search” for one — which is currently almost useless in the current context of FaceBook.)
These types of tactics often fall under the conspicuous label of “innovation” – where you have to constantly evolve the product (at an increased rapid pace) to meet the needs of the ever-demanding public. This video, produced by the BBC, encapsulates the general sense of what the call for innovation requires these days, and the way it has changed the way of doing business.
That sense has yet to affect companies in terms of the way that they treat their customers though – the concept of “customer innovation” is either still in its infancy or non-existent within the construct of the typical multinational corporation. “Customer Service”, “Customer Experience” and “Customer Satisfaction” are all seen as somewhat trivial constructs within one department (usually Marketing) and are seen as a cost centre for the most part with limited reach outside their given scope.
The existing, but rapidly out-dated, business models still reign for now — where the product or service continue to remain at the forefront of the organisational structure – and the needs of the customer are shuffled somewhere in the background usually under the label of “customer service.” They are seen as a front line issue that has limited scope in terms of influence over the entire business and are not considered as something that needs to drastically evolve in the short term. The term “saving it for a rainy day” seems to be the general consensus on the current standpoint to get to the root and solve on-going customer experience issues.
This is also proven in a 2013 Forrester survey of global CMOs, 63% listed acquiring new customers as their top priority, while just 22% said retaining current customers was their top goal. This is inverse logic for companies given that it is inherently more expensive to acquire new customers than retain the ones you already have.
Companies must move and evolve their methods on how they regard their customers to start to move the needle on their business — in the meantime, they’ll tread water…and you know what happens when you get tired of treading water…(hint: it has to do with sinking…and the outcome is neither desired or joyous.)