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The keys to thriving in the age of the customer

By Heather Wright, Tue 3 Nov 2015
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Next year will be ‘the most consequential year’ for companies adapting to digitally savvy, empowered customers according to Forrester, which says 10 critical factors will determine whether companies thrive or fail in the age of the customer.

Cliff Condon, Forrester chief research and product officer, says there’s a lot at stake for businesses in 2016.

“Empowered customers are changing the market fundamentals for virtually every industry, forcing companies to reinvent their strategy and operations,” Condon says.

“We are approaching a fork in the road where companies can either make the hard changes to dramatically improve their chances to win in the market or preserve old models and defer transforming their operations at the risk of failure.”

Forrester has outlines the top 10 critical success factors it says will determine who wins and who fails in the age of the customer:

Personalising the customer experience (CX) Customers will reward companies that anticipate their individual needs – and punish those that have to relearn basic information at each touchpoint.

Implementing multi-discipline CX strategies Companies that transform operations to deliver high-value, personalised experiences will drive a wedge between themselves and laggards just executing CX tactics.

Disrupting leadership CEOs will need to consider significant changes to their leadership teams to win in a customer-led, digital market; chief executives that hang on to leadership structures simply to preserve current power structures will create unnecessary risk.

Connecting culture to business success Those who invest in culture to fuel change will gain significant speed in the market; those who avoid or defer culture investments will lose ground in the market.

Operating at the speed of disruptors Leaders accept that disruption is now normal and will animate their scale, brand and data while operating at the speed of disruptors; laggards will continue to be surprised and play defence in the market.

Evolving loyalty programs Companies which find ways for customers to participate with their brand and in product design will experience new and powerful levels of affinity; companies that try to optimise existing loyalty programs will see little impact on affinity or revenue.

Converting analytics to customer value Leaders will use analytics as a competitive asset to deliver personalised services across human and digital touchpoints; laggards will drown in big data.

Mastering digital Companies that become experts in digital will further differentiate themselves from those that dabble in a set of digital services that merely decorate their traditional business.

Elevating privacy as a differentiator Leaders will extend privacy from a risk and legal consideration to a position to win customers; companies that relegate privacy as a niche consideration will play defence and face churn risk.

Putting in place a customer-obsessed operating model Companies that shift to customer-obsessed operations will gain sustainable differentiation; those that preserve old ways of doing business will begin the slow process of failing.

New market dynamics are in play for 2016 and the gap between customer-obsessed leaders and laggards will widen. The decisions companies make, and how fast they act, will determine if they thrive or fail in the age of the customer.

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