Sleeping On The Job
The worlds biggest ride hailing company owns no vehicles. The worlds largest retailer holds no merchandise. You know where I’m going with this. We’ve all heard the rhetoric -and quite frankly it’s getting a bit old- but it’s something that we can all relate to. I guarantee you are a user of at least one of these disruptors, enjoying unparalleled user experiences at the expense of thousands of business owners. But as the saying goes – you snooze you lose. So, don’t get caught sleeping on the job!
Disintermediation is happening, sure, but how extensive will this trend be and is your business at risk of being made redundant by the next robot/algorithm/platform that does your job better than you do?
There’s no arguing that business models are changing and, in some instances, have been completely disrupted already, as consumers demand greater value and businesses seek to further differentiate themselves. What’s interesting though, is that the disintermediation phenomenon has not occurred uniformly; some industries have been hit earlier and much harder than others. So, if your business is fortunate enough to still be in existence, now is the time to observe, consolidate and pivot if need be.
So, let’s look at a few steps you can take to ensure your business remains relevant for the foreseeable future.
“Never waste your feelings on people who don’t value you”
That heading is absolute nonsense, I just found it on the internet and thought it would get my point across better. If your business is reliant on a product and you aren’t or can’t add value before, during and after the point of sale, you’re in trouble – I hope this evokes strong feelings.
Ask your customers what they value and make a concerted effort to deliver that value in a tangible way. Get to the core of what your customers really want. Most of the time they don’t know what they want, but they expect you to know when they are paying you. If you can’t think of ways to add more value, it’s probably time to bow out, not because you’re bad but because your business is about to be disrupted.
Move from transactional to experiential
There is a new buzzword called the experience economy which us millennials are apparently crazy about, however, I think this trend is applicable to consumers in general. We all want to experience things that are new, exciting and personalized. Experiences are something that machines can’t replicate, and people are willing to pay more for.
The people who have this one down to a fine art are boutique luxury hotels. If you’re looking for some inspiration (and feel like spoiling yourself), splash out on a weekend away – write it off to your “R and D” account *wink wink*. Very often it’s the small things that count, like people remembering your name, an empathetic ear when voicing your needs and wants, the complimentary bottle of bubbles and a handwritten thank you letter in the post.
Aim to make experiences from each touch-point exceptional. Attention to detail is key!
Identify your purpose, communicate it, live it
People want to do business with people of purpose. Humans relate to passion and are attracted to purpose and ambition. Spend time defining your purpose by asking why you do what you do. It doesn’t need to be complicated or revolutionary, but it must be genuine.
Your purpose is the golden thread that holds your business together and determines its direction, yet most businesses don’t take the time to understand or communicate that purpose. So, define yours, make sure your customers know about it and can see you working toward it – it will differentiate you immediately.
As they say, if you know the why you can overcome any how!
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em
Want a new smoothie machine? You can purchase one in seconds and have it delivered to your office tomorrow. Want to book a spontaneous trip to Spain? Hola! You can do that from the comfort of your couch right now and we can have you sipping on Cerveza’s before the weekend. Sushi? Done!
Instant gratification is a lovely thing and something that I very much take for granted these days. Don’t judge me, you’re also a culprit and so are your customers, and it’s only going to get worse (I personally can’t wait for pizza delivery drones). People want to know how to transact with you and they want multiple channels to do so.
Ok, so not everyone has access to cutting edge technology and around the clock support teams that can facilitate this, but there are temporary solutions that can be put in place until this technology becomes more broadly accessible. Do the research and stay abreast with what’s available to SME’s in the tech space, this will go a long way, not many people are doing it!
Humans will never become irrelevant in business, however in this scenario ignorance is not bliss. The human element in business is irreplaceable, at least until we are unable to discern between a human and an AI robot, but that’s still to come. Work with purpose, do more than just facilitate a transaction, create exceptional experiences and leverage technology to its fullest!