Should we really move fast and break things?
In a world where customer success and experience reign supreme, is it always beneficial to prioritize speed and be the first, or is there value in taking a more patient approach?
Everything has to be fast nowadays; after all, we all know the phrase ‘yesterday’s news’. In our digital world, more than ever, we emphasise being first to trailblaze into new areas where there is no competition. But should we?
While distant and recent history gives us a lot of examples of companies that created whole new markets by being first, a significant number of companies rushed into the unknown and sometimes failed spectacularly.
This can be equally true for customer experience, which everyone wants to do; everyone wants to invest and do something spectacular that no one else has. While initiatives aimed to improve our customer’s experience and build strong relationships built on trust are praise-worthy, leaders often forget that we cannot create a client-centric organisation overnight, and no matter how much resources we spend on new tools and processes, cultural and mindset change will require more time.
Not so fast
“Innovation needs to be part of your culture. Customers are transforming faster than we are, and if we don’t catch up, we’re in trouble.”
Ian Schafer, co-founder/ CEO of Kindred and founder/ former CEO of Deep Focus
There are a couple of noble examples when pushing new ideas or technology didn’t bring the expected results; quite the opposite brought the company to ruin. I chose three examples of such an unfruitful rush and one where patience paid off.
Kodak vs. Digital Photography
The story of Kodak's rise and fall is a cautionary tale about the dangers of blindly adopting new technology without a solid plan. During the late 20th century, Kodak dominated the film photography industry. However, with the emergence of digital photography, Kodak hastily invested in it without thoroughly comprehending the market.
Outcome: Despite pioneering digital camera technology, Kodak ultimately filed for bankruptcy. Their rushed approach to digital photography couldn't compete with more patient competitors like Canon and Nikon.
Nokia's Swift Adoption of Touchscreen Phones
During the mid-2000s, Nokia recognised the importance of incorporating touchscreen technology into their mobile devices to remain competitive in the rapidly evolving mobile phone market. However, their haste to implement this technology led to a lack of finesse and refinement in their products, ultimately impacting their overall performance and user experience.
Outcome: Nokia's touchscreen phones faced usability issues and were soon overshadowed by Apple's more carefully designed iPhone, which offered a superior customer experience.
Blockbuster vs. Netflix: Evolution Over Revolution
Blockbuster, a renowned brand once synonymous with movie rentals, attempted to break into the digital streaming industry with an aggressive approach. However, Netflix took a more measured and strategic approach towards providing online content. By carefully analysing the market and consumer behaviour, Netflix established itself as a leader in the industry and gained a strong foothold in the digital streaming space.
Outcome: Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy, while Netflix's gradual transition to streaming transformed it into a media giant known for its exceptional user experience.
Google's Patient Approach to Search Quality
In contrast to other search engines, such as AltaVista and Yahoo, Google opted for a more deliberate approach to expanding its services and generating revenue via advertising. The company placed a higher priority on enhancing the quality of its search results rather than simply maximising its advertising revenue. This strategy has proven to be highly effective, as Google has become the dominant player in the search engine market and has developed a reputation for delivering highly accurate and relevant search results to its users.
Outcome: Google's patient approach paid off, as their search engine became synonymous with quality results, attracting users and advertisers in the long run.
Slow and steady
34% of companies have already undergone a digital transformation.
Those examples emphasise that in business, in general, patience should be considered a virtue. Some of you may think, okay, but there are equally many examples from companies that rushed to do something, and it paid off tremendously. Well, where this sometimes is true, I will advocate that speaking on digital transformation into a client-centric organisation hast is often your worst advisor. Keep in mind that patience should be considered as a passive approach but a proactive strategy that can produce impressive outcomes. Below are real-life illustrations of why it is beneficial to adopt patience when implementing customer experience modifications in your business.
Ensuring Lasting Cultural Transformation
Cultural transformation is crucial for a customer-centric organisation’s success. Changing mindsets, behaviours, and habits takes time. Rushing this process may lead to resistance and pushback from team members who feel overwhelmed or alienated.
Example: Zappos, the online shoe and clothing retailer. Zappos is known for its patient approach to customer service. They encourage representatives to take as much time as needed with each customer, even if it means longer calls. This dedication to customer satisfaction has earned them a loyal customer base. This patience in their customer service culture has become one of their defining features.
Seamless Integration of Tools and Processes
To improve customer experiences, it's crucial to take a patient approach when implementing new tools and processes. Hasty implementation can lead to technical issues, employee frustration, and, ultimately, dissatisfied customers. To achieve seamless integration, it's essential to plan carefully, test thoroughly, and have a comprehensive understanding of how these changes will affect both your team and customers.
Example: Look at Apple and its product launches. Apple takes its time to ensure that new devices, like iPhones or MacBooks, work seamlessly within its ecosystem. This patient approach leads to products that are known for their reliability and user-friendly experiences. By prioritising quality over speed, Apple has created a loyal customer base willing to wait for their meticulously crafted products.
Maximising the Benefits of Customer-Centricity
To become truly customer-centric, it's essential to exercise patience. This entails actively listening to your customers, gathering their feedback, and making incremental improvements based on their insights. Rushing through this process may result in missed opportunities and the alienation of clients who feel disregarded.
Example: Amazon evolution. Amazon's evolution from an online bookstore to a global e-commerce giant was a gradual process. They continuously engage with their customers, meticulously collecting data on their preferences and behaviours. This patient approach allowed Amazon to create a highly personalised shopping experience, making customers feel understood and valued.
Step by step
“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.”
Steve Jobs, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple
To improve customer experience, it's crucial to have a clear plan in place. Begin by setting customer-focused goals that are aligned with your broader business objectives. These goals should be measurable, actionable, and time-bound (SMART) and should be aligned with your overall strategy and performance indicators.
1. Set Clear Objectives: Define Your Customer-Centric Goals
To improve customer experience, create SMART customer-centric goals aligned with business objectives.
An idea for a SMART goal: Increase customer satisfaction scores by 15% within the next 12 months.
2. Invest in Training: Equip Your Team
Invest in comprehensive training programs to prepare your employees for providing exceptional customer experiences while transforming your organisation’s culture and operations.
An idea for a SMART goal: Provide customer service representatives with monthly training sessions on active listening techniques, with the aim of improving first-call resolution rates by 10% within six months.
3. Continuous Feedback: Gather Insights from Customers and Employees
Collect feedback from both customers and employees to inform improvement efforts.
An idea for a SMART goal: Implement a bi-weekly customer feedback survey, aiming to achieve a response rate of 30% and identify at least three actionable improvements each month.
4. Embrace Flexibility: Adapt and Learn from Interactions
Successful transformation requires flexibility. Adapt strategies and processes based on customer interactions and make real-time adjustments to meet their needs.
An idea for a SMART goal: Respond to customer inquiries and complaints within 24 hours, with a target of resolving at least 90% of issues to the customer's satisfaction within one week.
5. Communicate Transparency: Build Trust Through Open Communication
Throughout your transformation journey, it is essential to communicate transparently. Keep your team and customers well-informed about the changes taking place. Address any concerns or questions openly. Transparency builds trust and helps manage expectations.
An idea for a SMART goal: Send monthly progress reports to customers and hold quarterly town hall meetings to address questions and concerns to maintain a 95% customer satisfaction rating.
“Don’t reinvent the wheel. Focus on winning one customer at a time. Be honest and sincere. Do what’s right. There’s nothing magical about this. That’s been my guiding principle. To make it work, you have to live it every day. Make it your mindset.”
As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, many startups and tech giants have embraced the "Move fast and break things" motto. However, this approach may not always yield the desired results for you and your team. Therefore, it's worth considering a new perspective on why being like the tortoise in the race of customer experience and organisational transformation may be more effective. A slow and steady approach can lead to winning the race of customer-centricity and building a solid foundation for long-term success and wish you all the best in navigating this journey!