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The Paradox of Disruption: you need the oldest truths in the book

The world is changing fast, and many business models are under attack. The word ‘disruption’ slips into the conversation more and more often. Amazon acquired Whole Foods, and it has already aggressively lowered food prices - delivering a blow to the likes of Walmart & Ahold. And yet, there's a paradox at the root of the Amazon succes.

The paradox of disruption

Amazon is eating the world: few companies are as disruptive as Amazon. It’s true. And yet, their disruption is driven by age-old truths, as expressed by their customers. Here's how Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos put it:

"I very frequently get the question: 'What's going to change in the next 10 years?' And that is a very interesting question; it's a very common one. I almost never get the question: 'What's not going to change in the next 10 years?’  And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two. Because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time."  

Bezos then goes on to say that there are 3 things that he has used to build his retail empire upon. Things that were true 20 years ago, and that still stand:

  1. customers want low prices
  2. customers want fast delivery
  3. customers want vast selection. 

And so every decision Jeff Bezos and Amazon have made, has been grounded on these three fundamental pillars.

And there lies the great paradox. The very guy who is disrupting on a truly universal scale, is doing so by drawing back to old adages. Adages he learnt from his customers. 

Time to re-discover the old truths

What wisdom can we draw from that? Well, rather than to fear or blindly chase disruption, rather than to disrupt just because it’s the vogue, you’ve got to re-discover things in order to disrupt. And so the real questions shift to new ones:

  • How can you re-discover the true drivers of your business success?
  • How can you measure, not just the outcome, the symptoms of your success, like your revenue and your margins?
  • How do you expose what is hidden underneath these KPI’s, and underneath your organizational structure and the patterns that your business has set into? 

Well, answering these questions is simple. You do it by listening to your customers. Over and over and over again. You listen continuously. And then you start truly paying attention to what they are telling you. 

So how do you listen, really? 

At Hello Customer we've been asked to create long surveys, with lots of checks boxes and multiple-choice menus. We’ve always refused to do so. Because we believe such tactics stand in the way of true listening. True listening starts with putting customers first, and assumptions second.

Businesses have to allow customers to tell them what they want, instead of asking what businesses want to know. Frankly, the only way to discover the important truths, is to listen to the people who pay the wages. The essential learnings are in the simplicity of listening to the ones who know best. Your customers know best. 

Once you tap into the feedback, you can use Artificial Intelligence to digest it, to dispatch it, to summarize it and to share it with your teams. Hello Customer’s ISAAC Feedback Analysis allows you to do just that. ISAAC is an AI-based system that uses text analytics to categorize customer feedback so that your listening isn’t colored by your own preferences. Listening becomes objective, and automated.

Are you listening? 

I’d be happy to hear if you are. And how you are listening, today. And how you’re using those findings to reinforce your business. Let me know – I’m curious!

You can find me at bram@hellocustomer.com / +32490430973. 

Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, I'm happy to discuss this subject further with you.

#customerfeedback #surveys #disruption #customers #customercentricity #nps #feedbackculture #responserate #cx #kpi #customerkpi

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