Innovation and customer focus: two of the strongest underlying elements of most business strategies – or are they? Executives will band around these words in business meetings, management presentations and financial reports but, in these transient and unforgiving economical times, they need to be the driving force behind every organisation’s strategy.
This week’s blog takes a no-holds barred look at the real meaning behind an innovative business strategy and asks some difficult questions which your organisation needs to be answering to stay ahead of the game.
A common definition of innovation is “the creation of better or more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments, and society.” (Wiki). This implies that innovation never stops, and to be most effective it needs to become embedded into the mindset and infrastructure of your organisation – from the bottom up, across all departments, in every single process.
As obvious as this might seem on paper, a growing number of organisations are losing sight of the ultimate vision, no doubt in an attempt to satisfy ever demanding stakeholders – an action that can prove detrimental to the long-lasting success of your organisation. But it doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom; there are plenty of tools out there which can help you become more innovative, and it’s never too late to start!
First, think about how innovative your organisation is in the following areas:
Who are your leaders? Do they have the necessary resources to succeed? Are they true ‘leaders’ or simply managers?
How empowered are your employees (be honest!)? How do the more experienced employees empower newer or more junior team members? How much time and effort does your company spend on empowerment?
Is your organisation structure flat or hierarchical? Can employees communicate freely on issues they are facing in their daily job? How is company news (good and bad) delivered?
What is your organisation’s communication strategy?
To ensure an integral innovation strategy exists within your organisation, leaders and aspiring leaders need to have the environment, support, resources and vision to create better products and services which will consistently exceed your customer’s expectations.
Don’t make the mistake of confusing operational efficiency with an innovation strategy. Whilst business operations remain at the core of your organisation – it’s only when an effective operations strategy is combined with effective marketing, human resources, innovation, communication processes that innovation is realised.
What tools can a company use to become more innovative?
Sophisticated inventory processes.
This could allow your company to stock a wider range of products to meet your customers’ needs.
Forward thinking financials.
Improve your cash flow to allow more investment into other innovation strategies.
Automate basic processes to redirect resources to more customer-focused areas.
Allow your global sales team to collaborate effectively to exceed sales targets.
So, how innovative is your organisation?
A vital component linked to becoming more innovative is your company’s customer focus. Whilst answering customer enquiries on time, delivering orders and providing quality products to your customers are all important elements of your customer focus strategy, it’s only when a deep dive exercise is undertaken that the real results show. Think (honestly) about:
What is your customer strategy? How do you attract, retain and grow your customer base?
How well do your products resolve your customer’s pains?
Which features and benefits do your customers value the most? Why? What are your competitors doing better? What are you doing better? Does your organisation make each and every interaction with your customer count? Is the first impression of your company a good one and does it stay that way throughout each interaction with you right up until the final invoice has been issued?
Do you maximise each opportunity to impress, delight and build loyalty with your customers?
How can SAP Business One contribute to a customer-focused strategy?
Tailored, customised customer communication. From work orders, to delivery notices and invoices – engage your customers from day one and provide them with a consistently excellent impression of your organisation. [Read a success story]
Clear, concise, correct data management. Keep orders and stock levels up to date to keep customers returning to you and not your competitor. [Learn more]
Mobile solutions and add ons. With over 500 add-on solutions tailored to an individual company’s needs, your customers will feel your engagement with them at each level (see below examples). [Learn more]
Organisations who spend the time measuring customer satisfaction in an objective way, studying their needs, behaviours and challenges are the ones who will succeed not only in attracting the right customers but more importantly in retaining them and ensuring they are providing a quality service. [Read our recent post about how SAP maintains excellent quality standards for clients]
Speak to Blue Ocean Systems’ team of specialist consultants about how the right ERP can ensure innovation and customer focus is at the core of your organisation, now and in the future.