Disruption affects every industry, but there are ways to weather the storm.
In the past, the term "disruptive" conjured up images of the unruly kid sitting in the back of the class. While the rest of the class was trying to learn about world history or geometry, the annoying classmate behind us was plotting how best to get the teacher's goat. That type of disruption was irritating and difficult to deal with for both the students and the teacher, but it's no match for the type of disruption we contend with today.
Every industry is either currently being disrupted by some new business model or technology, or it will be in the future. According to a Harvard Business Review article, Russell Reynolds Associates found that executives across 15 industries believed they would experience digital disruption within a year. The numbers ranged from 39 percent of industrial C-suite leaders to 72 percent of media executives who believed their respective industries would be disrupted.
Although disruptions can be unnerving, here are three strategies to help you weather the storm.
1. Reach customers using a multifaceted approach.
In today's fast-paced world, it's easy for your brand to get lost in the shuffle. Customers are bombarded with unsolicited emails and calls from companies guaranteeing they'll solve all of their problems.
The last thing you want is for your customer, in a moment of weakness, to fall prey to one of these solicitations. In order to avoid this, your brand needs to be top of mind. Now, you don't want to flood your customers with communications on a daily basis – many will quickly unsubscribe – but you do want to give them regular, gentle reminders that you are here, you care, and you are providing value.
Don't just rely on digital ads that won't reach your consumers. According to Bob Liodice, CEO of the Association of National Advertisers, only 25 percent of every digital dollar spent on ads reaches the consumer.
Instead, take a multifaceted approach. Send customers emails, call them occasionally, send them a card or a small gift, ask them to fill out a short survey, or invite them to a webinar. Keep your brand in front of them from multiple angles. This will continue to ensure your brand is positioned in a positive light in the minds of your customers, and it will help them remain committed to you when solicited by competitors.
2. Prompt customers to take action.
It may seem counterintuitive, but making your customers take some sort of action reinforces their commitment to your brand.
Now, I'm not talking about asking them to take out a billboard espousing how much they love your company. Some simple actions include the following:
- Periodically asking customers to send you a referral
- Proactively prompting customers for feedback
- Implementing an online booking system
These initiatives require very little effort from your customer, yet they each involve interacting with your business. Each time customers take an action related to your brand, their commitment level increases a notch.
3. Make it simple to do business with you.
When a disruption occurs, it's usually in the form of an easier or better way of accomplishing a task. Amazon is a good example of this. Through rethinking distribution, it has made it possible for buyers to order online and have items delivered the same day. Uber is another example. By using mobile technology and applying a groundbreaking business model to ride-sharing, it's made the experience of getting from point A to point B much more enjoyable.
Although Amazon and Uber are quite different, they both found ways to make it easier for the customer to do business with them.
There are simple ways to make it easier for customers to interact with you. For example, make it easy for customers to get answers to questions. That may sound obvious, but how many times have you been routed to a company's online help section only to spend valuable time unsuccessfully searching for your answer? If you are going to offer online help, make it stellar, or let customers call in with questions.
Take steps to actively show that you value customers' time. For example, online scheduling is a simple way to allow customers to book when it's convenient for them. They'll appreciate you not forcing them to call to make, change or cancel appointments during your business hours, which are often when your customers are at work.
Disruption is part of the world we live in – it's not going away. The rate and number of industries being disrupted will only increase in the future. But that doesn't mean you have to cower in the corner.
There are numerous actions you can take to ensure your company stays strong even during a period of disruption. Try these suggestions, and you'll be well on your way to weathering even the most turbulent of disruptions.