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Strategy and brand

Your first obvious response to the COVID crisis has been to focus on the safety and wellbeing of your people. Now is a good time to renew your perspective on the future and to take measures that help mitigate the negative impact on commercial results. And that help identify opportunities and leverage them to your and your clients benefit. Please let us shed some light on focus areas to consider if you are interested in a strong and surprising return in the new normal.

  • Company Strategy: Recalibrate the foundation through market analysis, (strategic) scenario planning and adjusting your financial models. Take into account the economic outcomes of the pandemic and changes in customer behavior. Use this to re-clarify and re-define your positioning, the reason your organisation exists and your strategic intent. Do you stand out sufficiently for your stakeholders (including your employees), can they relate to what you want to stand for? Involve them, talk to them. Grow your organisation’s resilience by developing and executing decisive courses of action to realise your strategic intent, together with your key staff.
  • Customer strategy: Get in touch with your customer base, validate where and how there wants and needs may have changed due to the crisis. How do they want to experience your products and services, when and where? What opportunities does this show. Which risks become apparent? Feed this back into your positioning and choices for customer segments. And align your company strategy and business models to enable meeting your customers wants and needs in the most effective way, in keeping with the experience they desire. Can you offer a consistent, easy to understand and remarkable experience at every touchpoint where your customers interact with you?
  • Commercial Excellence: How do your sales, marketing, pricing and service reinforce each other to contribute to your strategic intent? Do you know where to improve to make more impact possible? Do your people understand your intent? To what extent have you enabled them to act in a way that results in a differentiating and remarkable customer experience that results in on-sales and a positive buzz? Do your staff understand what they are accountable for? What their freedom to act autonomously is? Are you helping them learn, innovate and improve fast enough? Are you leveraging all the potential that digitization and technology has to offer to make delivering a consistent customer experience easier? 
  • People: Your people make it all happen. To what extent do you offer them a distinctive and consistent employee experience that inspires them every day, to provide your customers a remarkable and satisfying customer experience? Is your organisation sufficiently resilient? Are you transparent and do you involve key staff in rethinking, reshaping and realising the changes that are necessary? Are you able to fail, communicate and learn fast enough?
  • Digital driven transformation: Digitization is here to stay. It provides a plethora of opportunity. Consider accelerating idea’s and initiatives. Working from home may have helped you identify gaps in your capabilities around IT-infrastructure, workforce planning, (digital) upskillling and what have you. Address these gaps vigorously. Automating sales, marketing and service processes may have been lagging a bit. This is the time to have new look at the business cases and speeding up trials and further decision making. 
Strategie en merk

Company Strategy

You must balance your efforts to contain the short term ramifications of the crisis and ensuring you are well positioned to remain successful in the new normal. Keeping your people safe, de-risking, optimising and safeguarding supply chains and ensuring finance is running a tight ship and liquidity is maintained at sufficient levels. The idea is to re-think strategy in such a way that you can outwit, outperform and outbehave your competition. Answering questions like how to play, where to play and how to win. Resulting in a clear strategic intent and a stronger, more resilient team that is able to absorb the impact of covid and quickly adapt to new opportunities as they come up. Of course there is no one-size-fits all solution. More considerations to stay ahead can be found here

Customer strategy

Customer strategy is about maintaining meaningful relationships with your customers. This is largely driven by the following capabilities:

  • The capability to create meaningful experiences at customer touchpoints throughout the entire relationship lifecycle. And continuously monitoring what works and what needs adapting.
  • The capability to formulate distinctive value propositions around your products and services and the way they are presented, creating an effortless buying or service experience for customers.
  • The ability to design a flexible and competitive pricing strategy that makes it easy for customers to choose you and helps you win deals.
  • The capability to adapt and automate sales, marketing and service processes in a practical way to increase efficiency and ensure a remarkable, stand-out experience for customers.

All relationships revolve around emotions. This applies equally to the relationship between people and brands. Can people relate to your brand? Does it stand out? Does it reflect why you are here and what your intent is? Have you made sure this is reflected in all your interactions with customers? Is there enough ‘human’ touch? A few good practices to keep in mind:

  • Put your customer at the heart of everything you do: Your most important stakeholder is a person looking for comfort, wanting to be recognised and helped in having his or her wants and needs met in an appropriate way. How do make sure that your sales-, marketing- and staff are supporting your customers in a meaningful, human and inspiring way? 
  • Leverage digital but don’t let it replace the human touch: Automation and efficiency in and of itself is insufficient to be distinctive and remarkable. Make sure your customer interactions still come from the heart. 
  • Create the future together: Covid-19 provides an opportunity to reinforce the connection between your brand and your customers, so involve them, engage with them and show them you apply the input they give you. And involve your key staff at the same time.

Commercial excellence

Responding and adapting to make the most of new circumstances is a key capability that requires continuous attention and development. How do your sales, marketing, pricing and service reinforce each other to contribute to your strategic intent? Do you know where yu can improve to make more impact possible? Can you adapt quickly and decisively?

Sales (B2B and B2C)

Have you sufficiently optimised your sales processes? How long is your lead-to-cash cycle? Hours, days, weeks, longer? Are you leveraging the potential that e-commerce platforms offer to optimise the way you are deploying systems, processes and people. Reducing throughput time and automating processes, resulting in rapid and error free operations, with face to face interactions brought to the lowest possible minimum and in doing so driving customer satisfaction up. And providing detailed data to make fact based decisions about further improvements. The same platforms enable you to involve business partners deeper into the processes and to automate adjacent functions, such as partner relationship management and contract management.

Pricing

Protecting your company against pressure on price and margins is crucial, certainly in times of economic uncertainty. The capability to deploy dynamic pricing strategies is essential. It enables your company to leverage volatile market conditions and clients changing willingness to pay.

Marketing

Are you prepared and ready to engage and interact with customers in new ways that inspire and if possible amaze? Previous marketing tactics need rethinking, the same goes for customer journey’s. Covid-19 requires a new way of targeting, putting the clients emotions and desired experience central in everything you do. Take the following to heart:

  • Create trust, focus on developing lasting relationships that go beyond transactions alone. This requires having a clear corporate identity that costumes can relate to and being transparent about your strategic intent and how you want to achieve it.
  • Break down data silo's to create insight into customer behavior and desires use this data to improve marketing effectiveness.
  • Work together across disciplines, learn to act as one team that can quickly adapt to the post covid era and it’s challenges. 

Service

Companies must ensure customers can reach them. Customer contact systems, centers and processes must be able to deal with working-from-home, while still delivering the ever important customer experience in line with your brand’s promise, at every touchpoint. Consider deploying chatbots or other automated solutions to help direct and deal with the contact flow and that provide essential data about customer behavior.

 People

Your people are at least as important as your customers. They bring your brand to life and make it happen. Work-from-home was a must and may well be here to stay. Have you thought about how to offer your people an employee experience worthy of your brand in the post covid (physically more distant) normal, that is inspiring, connecting and enables your people to provide a remarkable and satisfying customer experience at all times? Do your people understand your brand message and your strategic intent? Do processes and systems enable them to act in a way that results in a differentiating and remarkable customer experience that results in on-sales and a positive buzz? How have you considered involving key staff in rethinking, reshaping and realising the changes that are necessary? Training as you fight, becoming better as you go. Helping each other learn, innovate and improve to make delivering a consistent customer experience easier?

Digital transformation

Digitization is an essential enabler in delivering your brand’s promise and keeping in touch with your customers. Now more than ever, as customers are more and more inclined to deal with suppliers in a digital way. This changes your customers their perception of value. Loyalty becomes more fluent. An inspiring experience elsewhere can draw them away easily. It is key that you develop the capability to keep raising the bar in making digital interaction with your customers easy as 1-2-3, while making sure your brand’s identity and promise and above all human heart can be experienced at all times and touch points in a consistent way.

How well are your sales, marketing and service teams aware of what digital can provide? Digitization and automation have a fundamental impact on the way sales, marketing and service operate. The way of working and the skills and experience that are required will be very different. Can your people see the opportunities and their role in taking advantage? How well are teams equipped and experienced to work together across functional silo’s and cultures? Have you assessed your current digital capability and what would have to happen to develop and keep improving it? Do you have a digital transformation plan or roadmap? Do you think it is challenging and ambitious enough? Are you seeing results? Are your customers feeling the change, without losing sight of your brand’s and the human touch? The following factors should be assessed and addressed:

  • Digital skills: Do your employees have the digital skills and experience that enable them to fully exploit new technology and applications?
  • Transformation: Is your current business model able to cope with and absorb the dynamics of digital and deliver continuity of your business and help you grow profitability?
  • Data and IT-infrastructure: How well is your data and IT infrastructure equipped to enable and facilitate your business processes in a digital way? 
  • Digital collaboration: How well are you employees equipped to collaborate with digital tools? Is your leadership able to lead and inspire their teams in an on-line setting? How are you enabling a true-to-your-brand and still remarkable customer experience with digital tools?
  • Security: What has been put in place to ensure your business continuity, your data and that of your customers is protected? Have a strategy, clear governance and processes been put in place to cover cybersecurity and data privacy been put in place?

Contact

Peter Hoijtink

Peter Hoijtink

Partner Consulting, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)64 201 93 83

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