After the uncertainty of 2020, we have to admit: the new order came up from the chaos, and as a result, the business priorities were reconfigured, as well as the key areas of focus.
That’s why I have prepared powerful reminders for CEOs based on my own observations, combined with insights from the Chief Executive Officer research project conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value. The report offers surprising distinctions between Outperformers and Underperformers that any company can learn from. So let’s underline the main lessons that help organizations thrive in times of crisis.
The truth is, that acting on customer feedback doesn’t work in times of unpredictable changes. Asking clients what they want is not enough. In the pursuit of excellence, you should treat them even better than they expect. In my company we have a distinct corporate value called “Wow-effect”. This specific idea had brought us loyal customers and recognition on the market long before the pandemic broke out.
The top tier of customer-focused organizations recognized the usefulness of this rule and highlighted the need of following a proactive approach to analyzing dynamic data. To create a differentiated customer experience and improve the decision-making process, companies should not only harvest the information but use innovative tools.
That will be helpful in selecting the most important consumer insights, identifying demands that emerged during the crisis, and developing appropriate strategies to make your clients scream “Wow!”. The collected data may be voluminous and overwhelming, therefore adopting technologies fueled by AI is highly advisable.
When it comes to building relationships with customers, ethics and integrity appear to be key human features. Specifically, I would like to define transparency in communication, pricing, and working processes as the main aspects to obtain clients’ trust.
Therefore, CEOs who were identified as Outperformers emphasized the necessity of protecting against cybersecurity risks to ensure both harmonious relationships with customers and business prosperity. Considering their deep reliance on digital tools, it doesn’t sound surprising.
What is more, successful customer-focused executives were 88% more likely than Underperformers to highlight behavioral skills and values as an important part of the communication within the company. They are used to treating their colleagues as inner clients, which notably improves the working atmosphere and productivity. I promote this rule within my team and can say without a doubt that it really shows positive outcomes.
To deal with the turbulence imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, proactive CEOs focused on the effective management of the remote workforce. They were concerned with the impact the WFH model has on their employees’ wellbeing and recognized the urgent need to promote human-to-human creativity.
Moreover, in the darkest moments, Outperformers tended to value the human capital more than Underperformers. Successful executives were looking for ways to instill colleagues with a sense of purpose and earn their long-term trust. For that reason, they were more likely to opt for keeping the valuable workforce but reducing benefits if needed, while their not-so-successful peers were more prone to layoffs and furloughs.
From my point of view, the next lesson the pandemic has taught most entrepreneurs is a fundamental rule for product companies in general. In order to overcome crises and generate more income, you ought to invest in your product and do not mask its weakness through the means of marketing efforts.
Honestly, a reliance on packaging and promotion will not bring you loyal clients. Conversely, when you concentrate on the quality of product development, you create a compelling value for your customers who will feel it by all means.
Don’t stress, you don’t have to have the competency to cope with everything on your own. I believe that a successful leader ought to delegate secondary tasks to colleagues and focus on the core business. Alternatively, when you feel a lack of expertise in certain matters, consider transferring those liabilities to reliable contractors outside your company. When done wisely, it relieves enterprises from operational headaches and ensures high-quality execution.
In the interviews with the top CEOs, the topic of an effective and long-term partnership came up repeatedly. The pandemic has shown that having a partner who will have your back in times of rapid changes is highly beneficial.
Therefore, the subject of building an extensive network of contacts became more relevant than ever before. Interesting fact: successful leaders define partnerships as the most important aspect of building trust with customers, while laggards put it in last place.
You may also consider collaborating with partners from offshore locations to receive financial benefits and a fresh look at your business. For instance, there are countries in Eastern Europe with governmental incentive programs and large talent pools to provide you with innovative solutions.
Just stay focused on the core tasks and let others take care of everything else. That’s how you will keep the focus and address an issue that is familiar to loads of executives.
The challenges of the pandemic are here to stay and the best thing we can do is to learn from those who managed to succeed against the odds.
Digital transformations induced by Covid-19 highlight the importance of cybersecurity and make us adopt new technologies for analyzing customer insights and drive the decision-making process.
Nevertheless, I’d like to emphasize that in the era of virtual communication, we should not depreciate human relationships and the necessity of building a rapport with clients, colleagues, and partners. Last but not least, I suggest focusing on the product, your main asset, to meet consumer expectations and see your business flourish.
Take a forward-looking perspective, consider the mentioned tips, and you’ll overcome the steepest difficulties of these unprecedented times.