7 Qualities of Forward-Thinking Organizations
In today’s highly competitive marketplace, stagnation is simply no longer an option. If the past 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that there’s no such thing as ‘business as usual’ anymore – the only constant is change, and organizations need to be prepared for unprecedented disruption and “black swan” events.
On top of all this, customers still expect their interaction with brands to be digitized, fast, efficient, and highly personalized. Their tolerance for excuses is low, which means companies need to be prepared to pivot at a moment’s notice. The best way to do that is to consider the future now, before it’s here and forcing change on you unexpectedly.
Only the most forward-thinking organizations will earn customers’ loyalty by meeting and exceeding their expectations. Companies who remain stagnant will fold, while those looking to the future will thrive.
Make Sure Your Business is Always Looking to the Future
As the needs of your customers shift, you have to be ready to pivot in many areas of business. Your processes, people, and technology may need updates or enhancements. You may need to reimagine things like team collaboration, customer communication, or even business goals.
How do you ensure your organization breaks out of stagnation and is well prepared for anything? Here are seven qualities forward-thinking organizations share:
1. They Adopt the Latest Technology
The COVID-19 pandemic separated technology leaders from technology laggards. The businesses who prioritized mobile, digital channels, and remote enabled services thrived, while others fell behind. Consider new and emerging technology like AI and innovative collaboration tools to keep your team connected to your customers, and to each other, from anywhere.
2. They Know and Listen to Their Customers
Forward-thinking companies know that understanding the motivations of their customer base is key to their success. By putting a better customer experience at the heart of your business strategy, your organization will flourish. There are many ways to better understand your customers, but one tried and true effort is to implement a Voice of the Customer program. A strategic VOC program can help you better understand the expectations of your clients, with the ability to turn customer feedback into actionable data.
3. They Monitor Their Competition
As well as staying hyper-focused on their own objectives, successful businesses stay clued in to what is going on in their marketplace, including monitoring forward-thinking competency examples to see what they can learn. Today, you are not only measured up to your direct competitors, you’re also measured up to brands that are delivering your customers’ last best experiences. Consider how leaders in customer experience are serving their customers. There might be hidden opportunities in processes or strategies that your company can adapt and use. Pay close attention to the brands your customer demographic responds positively to.
4. They Listen to Their Employees
As you build a more future-looking organization, it’s important to include every person on the team. That means encouraging forward-thinking in the workplace, listening carefully to your team members and considering their needs – from customer service representatives to warehouse operators to C-suite executives, and everyone in between.
Remember, work-life balance is more important than ever. A happy team will produce the most valuable work and be more empowered to best serve your customers. Ensure that you have the digital tools available to allow your team to work remotely when they need to, especially given changing working conditions.
5. They Prioritize Industry Research
It’s not enough to only focus on what’s going on internally. A truly future-looking business must also have their finger on the pulse of what is going on around them. By staying on top of findings and research which share forward-thinking business ideas, you can keep your business ahead of the curve.
Consider bringing an internal market analyst on board, or outsourcing to a market research specialist. Leading research firms like Forrester, Gartner, or Worldwide Business Research are great at what they do and provide valuable industry research for paid subscribers.
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6. They Demonstrate Current State Awareness and Future State Vision
To thrive in today’s competitive business environment, companies must demonstrate future-forward thinking in addition to staying hyper-focused on the present. You should dream big, but also make sure to stay realistic and set manageable milestones for your team – a future state journey map provides visual inspiration for your team as they explore the technologies and touchpoints involved in your customer journey, and seek to improve them.
By getting the balance just right, you’ll be able to optimize today’s revenue and tomorrow’s opportunities.
7. They are Passionate Advocates
Successful businesses with their eyes on the future prioritize true engagement of the entire team, from the boardroom to the hot desks. In addition to the organization-wide active listening I mentioned earlier, you’ll want to make room for every employee to get involved in the pursuit of operational goals.
This means creating opportunities for everyone, from the top down, to do their part. For example, maybe your senior executives prioritize creating thought leadership content and joining industry boards, while your customer service team focuses on creating customer experiences that ripple positive effects throughout the company.
This enthusiastic advocacy should cascade through your organization, allowing every single employee to feel as though they are making a difference.
Are You Ready to Take the Next Step?
The tumultuous market we’ve all been experiencing over the past year and a half shows no signs of leveling out long-term – to compete, forward-thinking leadership is essential. If your business could use some help defining and implementing a futureproof strategy, we’d love to help you to get started!