Stay tuned
March 31, 2023

Business agility is built on the ability to respond and adapt quickly. Fiona Silver looks at the importance of customer insight in building strategy and plans in rapidly changing times.

The business landscape is constantly evolving, with unexpected events and external circumstances often leading to sudden changes in customer behaviour. The COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the cost-of-living crisis and even the recent launch of ChatGPT are just a few recent examples of such events. While we may be able to predict that certain events are a possibility, we cannot always anticipate their timing or exact nature. This poses a significant challenge to businesses and organizations that want to stay primed to adapt to meet the changing needs of their customers both in B2C and B2B sectors.

One of the best ways to insure your business against the fallout from future change is by having an ongoing dialogue with your customers while also keeping tabs on changes in the external environment. Here are four suggestions to help you remain agile in the face of the unexpected:

1.      Continuously re-evaluate your customers’ needs and wants: Understanding your customers’ requirements is an ongoing process that requires constant iteration. Keep reappraising your understanding of your customers to stay informed of how their expectations are changing.

2.     Deep dive into your customers’ beliefs and values: Ethnographic research can help you understand the deeper beliefs and values that drive your customers, which are less likely to change even when external circumstances do.

3.     Keep track of competitor activity: Develop an ongoing process for monitoring and evaluating competitor activity to stay informed of their developments.

4.    Learn from adjacent industries: Identify other sectors that share characteristics with your own (channels, target audience, technology…) to learn from their approach and activity.

Developing your business strategy begins with a deep understanding of the market and customer expectations to ensure plans are built on solid foundations and consider external forces with activities formulated accordingly. 

This is especially important in times of rapid change and should be central in an agile approach to strategic planning, whatever the focus may be – business, brand, transformation or marketing. However this is not a one-off activity conducted when the strategic playbook comes out each year – it needs to be hard-wired into the day-to-day marketing activity and part of the organisation’s business culture.

We see clients who regularly track and monitor customer trends and behaviour are those who respond and adapt quickest. It is the very essence of business agility, enabling them to approach change with confidence and make informed decisions that drive business growth.

Fiona Silver, March 2023

Fiona Silver is Research Lead at SaturnFive© Consulting and runs her own research practice, Silver Research Services.

At SaturnFive, we understand the importance of being poised for unexpected change and provide expert insight services that can help clients stay informed of their customers’ evolving needs and behaviours, as well as keeping track of competitors, market trends and any adjacent industries.