3 Requirements to Avoid a Sears Ending

Hint: business transformation aligns strategy, process, and the end customer

In 2016, research showed that 1 out of 3 public companies would not survive the next 5 years. It looks like Sears, a stalwart company over one hundred years old, will be in that 30%. But it didn’t have to be this way. Business transformation could have come from focusing on 3 critical requirements.

How does your company avoid a similar fate?

Here are 3 requirements

1. Embed in strategy the customer is king – and act on it

The one constant among all the change is that customers count.

If you do not provide them with the service and products they want the way they want them when they want them, you are out. Customers do not care that:

… your company has been around for over 100 years.

… you want to generate a certain ROI for investors.

Customers want what they want. You don’t provide it. They will go elsewhere.

This includes the entirety of their customer experience with you.

Ask yourself: Do you even know what your customers really want?

If you say yes, do you have data to back it up?  Indisputable data such as increasing sales, revenue, and margin? Do you have enough customer input data to drive a new strategic direction with a high degree of confidence?

If no data, you will be joining the 30%. If being part of the 30% is not your goal, you need to figure out the performance and service your customers really expect, not what you think they need or will buy.

Remember, retained and new customers get you ROI. But customers come first.

2.  Look at what is going on in the economy for your customers and creatively figure out if you already have an answer that can be updated to be buyer attractive

If we do a bit of brainstorming on this:

One of the big problems in the U.S. is the lack of affordable housing for new home buyers and lower wage earners.

One of the things Sears used to be known for was selling complete houses out of a catalog – affordable houses.

What if Sears updated designs, created logistics support, and then sold and delivered homes to be put up on lots where the customer is located?

What if Sears created partnerships with construction firms located across the country to put together these catalog homes? Or. What if Sears created an online marketplace for construction firms and catalog house buying customers to find each other?

What business transformation can you enable by updating an old offering that may just need a bit of innovative thinking to be valuable once again?

Here’s another one:

If Amazon and others can put instant order buttons on appliances and tools, why couldn’t Sears use instant repair/replacement buttons? Sears already has the customer relationships and the service dept.

3. Support your strategies with customer aligned processes

While we know all plans fall apart once they get into the field, knowing what your customer expects and values allows you to quickly adjust processes to more closely align to end customers.  Data comes back into the picture. Make sure your metrics gather truthful information from the customer’s point of view about your customer service, delivery experience, and order placement.  Then, keep using the metrics to drive your process performance closer and closer to what your customer values.

Technology, used to support and provide the transformation your customer wants (nowadays: easy to use, do it for me because I don’t have the time solutions) and aligned to your performance strategy creates growth. Tech can be phased in as customers provide feedback and you align closely to the way they want to be served.

Today’s competitive environment is tough enough without shooting yourself in the foot. Whether you are B2B or B2C, your customers will reward you for performing exactly as they need and want you to perform. Even better, not everything has to be brand new – innovate what you have that your customers will buy.

When you are involved in business transformation, you need to know what performance you are willing to offer and then make sure you attract the customers that will buy that performance. While you may lose some customers, the ones that stay will continue rewarding you with business and will lessen significantly the complaints to the customer service department. And that’s a win-win any business would want.

Free Guide on target performance requirements for YOUR customers.

I’ve created a free guide you can get by clicking here. It helps you conquer even the toughest markets.

Although the steps required to align correctly will not be easy, especially if you’ve been in business for a while, they are essential.

Answer me this:

If you and I were sitting down having coffee, what is the number 1 performance issue you would want us to be talking about for transforming your business?

Seriously – Send me an email with your answer by clicking here.

I’ll start blogging insights, answers, solutions, and what-ifs to your issues.

I want you to remain in business

Keywords and concepts: performance, strategic planning, alignment, innovation, business transformation

Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky, President of Process & Strategy, consults with and provides training for organizations eager to increase their competitive value through growth, aligned performance, and making and moving products and services (even when the product is a serving of electrons like SaaS)


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