Rethinking value in a fast-changing landscape
In the past seven weeks, since lockdown in the UK, consumer sentiment and purchasing habits have changed dramatically as we all adjust to our new circumstances. With a prolonged emergence from lockdown looking likely based on plans from Spain and France, traditional methods of delivering value are under further strain. In many respects what we are facing is the largest innovation challenge of our time; reimagining how to connect with and serve customers. This article poses some key questions that can guide firms through alternative ways to provide value to customers and societies.
Same, same but different
For a lot of firms, the primary focus right now is on how to overcome supply chain and distribution challenges in getting existing products to existing customers. This has chiefly been accomplished by altering existing products and services so that they can be consumed either via digital channels or contactless methods. Prime examples of this are gyms shifting to online streaming, restaurants offering contactless delivery or collection, and event organisers running conferences via video.
While important in helping to keep the lights on in the immediate term, solely relying on changes to distribution channels is not going to cut it in providing long-term value for customers. The key reason for this is the social and emotional fulfilment we often seek out when using or buying something. And so, by focusing purely on the functional job to be done we neglect the social and emotional value that does not translate well when switching to contactless services or digital channels. Therefore, in this next phase of recovery, we all need to think beyond switching up the distribution channel if we want to build sustainable products, services and businesses.
This is a time to be creative in how we connect and serve our customers. With this comes the opportunity to deepen relationships, address new customer groups, embrace new technology and think of entirely new ways to create value.
Switching it up
In our call to action for ‘switching it up’ we have focused on five key areas that can help us all to rethink how we identify potential opportunities for creating value in different ways during these uncertain times and beyond:
- Customer need: Are we solving the right need for the right people?
- Partnerships: Who can we collaborate with to deliver a better product or service?
- Go to market: How can our customers best access, consume and experience our products and services?
- Experience: How can we create a memorable and engaging experience around our products and services despite the mode of consumption changing?
- Higher purpose: How can we contribute to the local, national, and global response effort?
As we start to emerge from lockdown, organisations need to do more than migrate current offerings to digital channels. Yes, this situation is accelerating digital transformation but digital is far more than just using online channels. It’s about getting the organisation to work in a different way, it’s about using data, experience design and new technology to create new products and services that you didn’t think possible. It would be a crying shame if all that came out of this crisis is that we are now using digital channels to do the same things as before.
No one knows how the future is going to unfold; therefore, this is a time to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit by putting pace and experimentation before perfection and analysis. The five areas above can be used as a prompt to help you rethink the essence of how you define value, the way you choose to deliver it and for whom. We all need to step up and step into what is the greatest innovation challenge of our time and in the words of Winston Churchill, "never let a good crisis go to waste".