With appropriate planning disciplines and a good understanding of customer and market movements, delivery becomes less about reacting to unforeseen and unplanned-for scenarios and more about continually iterating and improving the way the organisation does business.
While high growth businesses are likely to be more nimble in adopting large scale changes (with reduced governance and legacy processes), it is important to derive continuous and incremental value from change to maintain pace with increasingly disruptive competition.
Implement a continuous improvement ethos
A continuous improvement ethos and culture avoids ways of working becoming engrained and difficult to change. But how do you continually improve?
External stimulus can provide the ‘Art of the Possible’ – looking to competitors, other markets and the latest thinking on service delivery to keep ideas fresh and relevant. Space, time and often money are required to rapidly test and appraise new approaches and tools. This may be an investment that is difficult to swallow. The reality is though that without this investment, internal processes and customer service delivery will stagnate, decreasing customer value. In contrast, getting 1% better every day for a year will mean you are 37 times better at the end of the year!
Continuous improvement applies to all aspects of the business including marketing, sales, operations and supply chains. However, in our view there are two key lenses to continuous improvement for high growth businesses; the ‘staff experience’ and the ‘customer experience’.
Continually Improving the Staff Experience
Traditional continuous improvement focuses on reducing waste in staff processes (and generally the motivator is cost rather than staff experience). Given the particularly key role ‘people’ play in the growth outcomes of an organisation, staff experience is particularly important for high growth businesses.
Understanding the staff journey in delivering their roles and addressing pain points will go a long way to bolster morale and foster the appetite for growth among the team. Perhaps a benefit of the pandemic has been the increased focus on staff, their circumstances, their feelings and their difficulties in engaging in their roles. The challenge is for businesses to continue this and build it in to as regular and ongoing review with tangible actions in place to build an improved experience over time.
Continually Improving the Customer Experience
Using rigorous planning and market understanding of customer needs, continuous improvement should also focus on customer experience. Incremental changes which improve customer experience will not only help build and maintain customer advocacy and business retention, they will also ensure organisations are less vulnerable to new market entrants who have exploited new technologies to deliver a step change improvement in customer experience.
The step will be smaller or non-existent thanks to your 37times annual improvement! The first rule of service design tells us that a service designed without the customer, is a service that doesn’t work for the customer. So, the key here is to involve your customers and understand their needs and wants – so your incremental improvements build advocacy, trust and deeper relationships.
For high growth businesses, there is an additional challenge – to diversify and reduce reliance on a small customer segment. Therefore, investing more time understanding and improving the way you meet customer demands for that segment may reduce focus on the needs of the customers you don’t yet have. So, a balance needs to be struck in the time invested, which includes the analysis of new customers, their needs and setting out actions which incrementally expand or improve your service offering to cater to those needs as well.
Whilst a high growth business might focus, rightly, on meeting the demands of customers today, the agility to meet growing demands relies on carving out time for continuous improvement of internal process and customer experience in order to meet the demands of customers tomorrow.
If you have any questions regarding the topics in this blog, please contact Glenn Hogg
You can read the next blog in the series here