Strategic thinking is ‘the art of outdoing an adversary, knowing that the adversary is trying to do the same to you’ (Thinking Strategically – the competitive edge in business, politics and everyday life: Avinash K Dixit & Barry J Nalebuff). To be the number one in your chosen field and to retain this position requires one to adapt a strategy that works, and one that outdoes your competitors. You need to do something different to retain, and attract, new customers. This is no mean feat in today’s competitive world but by focusing on customers you stand a better chance.

The historical ideology of using just price and technology to achieve the market advantage is quickly fading and organisations are turning to focus on the customer experience to give them the edge at the front line that will, by default, positively impact on the tills! I have no doubt that the customer is always on their radar but is their experience a key priority? Perhaps not really afforded the time and effort that should have been allocated to it means it falls, unconsciously, down the priority order. Due consideration should be given to see whether the time and effort of adopting a 100% focused strategy on the customer/client is critical.

Customers today have little tolerance for bad service and their experience both in and out of the area of trading is crucial to bring in more customers through recommend and also to retain those already hooked. Research, mainly carried out by our overseas cousins, has revealed that there is a direct correlation between the customer experience and the performance of the business. It concludes that out of all the 100’s of companies they examined those that shaped the attitudes and behaviours of the customers, and in some cases the staff, had improved business performance. Business leaders can justify the additional expenditure on improving the customer experience as the annual revenues have shown a marked improvement in those fostering a customer/staff-focused strategy. Indeed, if we were to look on a large scale the Forrester report of July 2011 stated that ‘improvements in the quality of customer experience can lead to increased annual revenues for the Communications industry by $900 million and $792 million for the hospitality industry”. They go on to say that the customer is the true source of an organisations value.

Businesses are realising that you cannot differentiate yourself by product and price alone. The customer has a memory and a voice and these can be used to your advantage so they return to your tills again or tell their friends and family to. The business impact of the customer experience can be enormous and to improve the experience or pathway of individuals or groups is totally scalable from the Sole Trader working to catch a small segment of the market to large multi-nationals who have the lions share.

It makes sense to focus and look after your customers (and staff) as they are the one’s that ultimately look after you!

Peter Inkpen
Peter Inkpen runs PEAR Business & Training Solutions in partnership with Terry Pizzey. Both Peter and Terry had long, successful military careers in the Royal Navy and since leaving Peter has worked in the Public, Private & Third Sectors in a variety of Programme/Project Management roles. He has recently completed a successful Patient/Staff experience project at a large NHS Trust with some extremely positive outcomes to both the patients and staff. PEAR concentrates on achieving the best from individuals and groups and both Peter and Terry are passionate about the customer/staff experience and how a focused strategy can produce beneficial outcomes. So much so that they have, after a long period of testing and evaluation, produced a dedicated programme to help businesses focus on their number one priority……the customer!

Telephone: 07972 816962

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