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Customer demands are changing – are you?

by Siri Maldonado

What do Blockbuster and Kodak have in common? They were both once incredibly successful and were world renowned brands.  But something happened and now they don’t exist anymore.

On the flip side, there are companies like Colgate and Dr. Pepper that have stood the test of time (both were established in the 1800s!).

While it’s challenging to pinpoint the reasons why some companies last and others don’t, one common thread for those that succeed is their willingness to change and evolve their business to meet the changing demands of their customers.

So how can businesses make sure they aren’t forgotten or made obsolete like Blockbuster or Kodak?  They changed for their customers, usually by implementing new technology that keeps their business models up-to-date with current trends, makes customer service faster or provides a unique product or offering.

The power of the customer

Today customers have a significant influence on whether or not a business succeeds.  They are accustomed to getting what they want, when they want and how they want.  And if businesses don’t deliver, well, they can expect to be beat out by another company that will.  Take Netflix for example. While Blockbuster was slow to evolve, Netflix completely disrupted the market and transformed how people watch television and movies today.  It’s become so common now that Netflix has become a verb.

“Netflix and Chill”

Nowadays, almost all companies recognize that continuous change is required, however this is just one part of the equation.  In fact, despite the increased awareness and appetite for change, the majority of business transformations fail.

Change management

To increase your businesses’ chances for success, we recommend applying a structured change management methodology.  If you do a search online about change management you will find countless options and a lot of resources including templates and tools.

In layman’s terms, change management is the process of overseeing change that will have an impact on the business.  This can include, but is not limited to, organizational structure, processes, products or services.   As demonstrated above with the examples of Blockbuster and Kodak, businesses must  constantly change to stay relevant.

Unfortunately change isn’t easy and with endless options out there, it’s always a great idea to do your due diligence to find the right methodology for your business.  The help you begin this process, we’ve included some guidance for you below:

  1. Recognize that change takes time and patience.  Training and education are key and can be done by calling in experts, doing research and being open to trying new things.

  2. Create an environment where it’s ok to make mistakes.  Instead, encourage your people to focus on what is being done to move forward and grow from that experience.    Lastly, don’t be afraid to take risks and fail.

“Success is 99% failure.” Soichiro Honda
  1. Timing is everything.  Take time to assess the current environment and ask lots of questions.  What else is happening right now?  Do you have the time and resources to get things done in an organized and thoughtful way?  Will this set up your business for success in the long-term?  What happens if we don’t change?

  2. Remember that you’re not alone.  There are a flurry of resources and people available who can help you and your business through change.  It’s always a good idea to engage your colleagues, or to pull in external resources like change management experts to collaborate and provide different perspectives and expertise to help get the job done.

  3. Celebrate and recognize! Both go a long way and help to keep the momentum moving forward.  Most importantly, make sure any celebrations or recognitions are authentic, done in a timely manner and in a meaningful way.

So, there you have it.  Change is inevitable and to stay relevant, it’s important for businesses to keep their customers top of mind.   Customer demands will only continue to grow and they have more choices than ever before.  As a result, businesses need to move at a much quicker pace and be forward thinking to remain competitive and keep up with these demands.

Don’t wait to change until it’s too late.  With the right mindset and change management methodology, your business will be well on its way to being a long-standing brand like Colgate or Dr. Pepper.



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