After living in the United States for over 20 years, out of which for 10 years in Silicon Valley California, I returned to the Balkans.
Only six years ago I was living in San Francisco and at that particular time I don’t remember ever needing to walk into a physical bank, all business transactions were conducted virtually via mobile phones and emails. I hardly ever needed to carry cash in my pocket. I remember being at some very rural, remote farm, buying a jar of honey with my credit card, these farmers had Square and at that time, this concept blew me away. Although it was only six years ago, this seems like an ancient memory now. Things change fast in California where people daily discover a new and easier way to manage everyday activities.
I’ve discovered a culture in which companies constantly look for better processes and better ways to do things, where product and services are customer focused and data driven. In America customers easily adopt new product and there is a healthy percentage of customers that like to experiment and try new things, also known as early adopters. This creates very strong environment for economic growth. USA gave birth to disruptors such as Amazon, Airbnb, Uber, etc. that drove many old business models out, globally.
In the upcoming 10 years we will see much deeper gap between the companies that can keep up with technological changes and those that cannot. Every company has to make that choice to either be in or out!
Here are the three key guidelines that can help you transform and grow your business:
- Recognize that every company regardless of industry is also a tech industry
- Adapt your company’s service design to the customer’s current lifestyle
- Collect and analyze the right data that helps you focus on the right problems to solve for your customers
Every industry must understand that they are part of the tech scene and are another tech company, including financial industry, education, medical, insurance etc. It’s a must to enable customers to conduct business online/in cloud and via mobile devices, and therefore no matter what the business is, it’s a tech business.
At this point, conducting business in cloud is not good enough, while enabling intuitive and effortless experience is the key to success. In 2017 it is simply unacceptable to still run a business in a very heavy bureaucratic way. Banking experience, for example, is still stuck in some old way of heavy bureaucracy. If a customer opens up a bank account in her hometown Celje, and then moves for work to Ljubljana, she needs to travel back to the actual bank in Celje where the account is open to get things done. This is unacceptable! Not only that it is unacceptable to expect that a customer will travel to another town to visit the bank, but to expect a customer to walk into any bank is also out of the question. This is especially true for generations that grew up with mobile devices.
Get to know your customer experience to understand how to make it better.
Your customers are experience junkies and they now get to enjoy many effortless services, which preconditions them to not want to settle for less. Hire a service designer (for service) and UX designer (for product) to help you research, analyse and understand end-to-end customer experience. Change the design of your service, online and offline, to adapt to customer’s ever changing lifestyle. If a customer uses Airbnb with ease, the expectation is that they’ll want to pay for car insurance with ease. And if your company does not enable that type of customer experience, a new company will surface overnight and kick your insurance business out before you can blink.
Rely on data to inform about customer behavior and understand the actual problems you are solving for them. Ultimately, they are paying for your service and they will quickly start paying someone that’s providing better solution for them.
As you work hard to transform your business into a tech company that is build on the right design make sure to track the right data and check in frequently to ensure that you are still solving the right problem for your customers. These are 3 very simple factors, if acknowledged, can change your business in the right direction and potentially make you a leader in that industry.