The following column is by Jackie Jones, a business design and strategy director at Fjord, design and innovation from Accenture Interactive.
In today’s world, change is both constant, and a constant challenge in business. To stay ahead of the unexpected and keep up with increasing customer demands, brands need to be flexible and remain relevant by continuously reinventing relationships and redefining customer expectations and experiences. Most brands recognize this need, but many still struggle to achieve it.
According to a recent study by Accenture, while the vast majority, 85 percent, of business leaders at top-performing companies believe that customer expectations are influenced by relevant, real-time, and dynamic experiences, many admit they are struggling to move fast enough to achieve customer satisfaction. According to the study, 64 percent of consumers switch companies when they feel the company is no longer meeting their needs, and 44 percent get frustrated when companies fail to use their personal information to make interactions and services more relevant to them.
So, just how can brands achieve this flexibility needed to stay relevant, and keep up with customer expectations? By becoming a “Living Business,” an organization that puts culture at the forefront of how innovation manifests itself in its products and services, its employee experience, and ultimately, its brand. By creating a culture that thrives on change, brands can remain agile and ahead of the market, without fear of stagnancy.
Living Businesses are those that subscribe to four key tenets:
1. Deliver intelligent experiences through a dynamic understanding of each customer;
2. Engage in responsive innovation by ensuring the company’s internal wiring and culture are primed to embrace new ideas, behaviors, and technologies so they can respond quickly to evolving opportunities and anticipate customer’s needs;
3. Act as an organism, not an organization, by adapting operating models to break down internal silos and use analytics to fuel decision-making to advance performance;
4. Be guided by purpose by embracing a set of behaviors, beliefs, and values that align the brand ambition and execution, and shape the experience of interacting with customers.
Embracing these tenets will enable brands to fulfill the promise of a Living Business. This transformative evolution requires the recognition and optimization of four vital signs: Personality, Instinct, Craft and Relationships.
Personality refers to the set of behaviors, beliefs and values that shape the experience of interacting with a brand – whether as a customer or a colleague. All organizations have personality, but a Living Business has a personality that enables both the brand and its people to flourish authentically.
A Living Business also has instinct when it comes to how they make decisions and adapt to change. For instance, are employees empowered to make important decisions without needing approval from management each time?
Also critical is craft—the very essence of what a brand does. The combination of all its people’s skills and talents that make its offering unique and unmatched—including those in “supporting roles” such as corporate functions, that can sometimes be overlooked, but are critical.
Within the company’s ecosystem, relationships—the final vital sign—with customers, employees, partners (ranging from vendors to start-up investments), and wider society underpin the first three vital signs. Great businesses have always been founded on great relationships, and this is more important today than ever before.
Together, these vital signs work to strive for the right “chemical balance” of a dynamic attitude for an organization to not just survive, but thrive. While change does not always come easy, by prioritizing these vital signs, brands will achieve the intelligence and agility required to regularly adjust and refresh the way they operate with minimum hassle—allowing them to embrace the complexities of changing markets and evolving customer expectations.