agile opportunities

In a commercial environment where adaptability is key to staying on top, businesses must be prepared to make bold and transformational moves to secure and grow their market share.

While no one knows what to expect next, the actions people are prepared to take will determine how successfully they meet tomorrow’s challenges. As the world looks forward to a near-future in which we are living with – rather than reacting to – the Covid virus, businesses are now facing problems ranging from political uncertainty and the threat of climate change to skyrocketing energy prices and supply chain shortages. From one perspective, you could argue that it’s time for businesses to be cautious, to steady the ship and hold back on investment and wait for a time when the clouds disperse, and the economic outlook becomes much clearer.

But this is a time for bold strategies, and if the past few years have shown us anything, it is that successful businesses adapt rapidly. As commercial realities change and opportunities emerge, the most flexible and smartest companies will act boldly to stay at the helm of their market.

Adaptive Companies

Customer expectations evolve as new players and innovative technologies enter the market: Insurance buyers want instant quotes based on a personalised risk profile; bank customers expect a certain amount of advice on how to manage their money; shoppers using e-commerce as an alternative to the High Street want next-day delivery and a seamless returns process. Technology is what makes this possible.

Forrester’s Principal Analyst Brian Hopkins argues that businesses that adapt rapidly to shifting customer demand and expectation grow three times more quickly than those that don’t. “Adaptive” businesses are constantly assessing their position in the market by tracking the behaviours and expectations of existing and potential customers, adjusting their business models accordingly.

The goal is not just to provide better services but to identify opportunities, for instance, services that customers would like but which are currently not being offered, leading some businesses to completely pivot their business model. Hopkins cites the example of CVS, a healthcare company that identified demand for more services to be available through its pharmacies. As a result, it made a number of bold acquisitions enabling it to broaden its service offering and grow its revenues.

Research is Key

How does an organisation become truly attuned to the changing expectations of target customers and make bold strides to meet them?

One way forward is to actively engage in customer experience research. Today, most sizeable businesses have access to more customer data than would have been imaginable 20 or even 10 years ago. These multiple data sets are the key to unlocking insights into the kind of products and services that customers really want. Every engagement between a business and its customers provides an opportunity to collect data that can be analysed and turned into actionable information. This includes fleeting visits to websites which offer a mix of anonymous and attributable behavioural data – social media engagement, comments on blogs and transactional records. The data is there for the taking, and using it effectively requires not only analytics technology but also the means to extract and load digitised information into data warehouses where algorithms are applied, and numbers crunched. In that respect, having the right technology in place is key. This requires spending, which requires going against the grain for a number of businesses that are trying to practice fiscal discipline.

But there is more to it than that. In a recent article on customer experience research, Verizon identified the importance of customer-centricity. You might, for example, use the data to identify customers purely in terms of what they can do for your business, but that would be a one dimensional and arguably counter-productive approach. The real wins arrive when you use your insights to optimise what the business can do for the customer now and in the future. What is then required is the strategic vision to implement change and introduce new services based on those insights. In some cases, identifying demand in the market can open up a massive new revenue stream as was the case with Amazon. Once a consumer business, it has expanded into B2B services through the Amazon Marketplace and become one of the world’s most important suppliers of web services to businesses of all sizes. Big steps, constant evolution.

Not all businesses will undergo that kind of radical transformation, but it makes sense for every organisation to fully understand the requirements of customers, identify new opportunities and where appropriate make radical and decisive changes.


Further Reading:

Muncaster, P. (2020. Using Customer Experience Research to Find Out What Customers Want [Verizon]. Retrieved from: