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How to create value

I have just returned from a trip to West Africa where I met with leading banks there. Africa is the new frontier, the continent represents real growth opportunities for so many sectors. However, there is still a surprising lack of confidence amongst the bankers I met in the power and value of a connected, innovative product offering, driven by a beautiful customer experience. To those doubters, let me explain.

Some of the best and most creative minds are African, business is a way of life there, from the very young to the very old, each and every person is trying to make their way with an entrepreneurial zest I have only experienced in one other region - Asia. Maybe it is in their blood, or maybe it is the influence of the Chinese (who are all over Africa), but something is happening there that should be watched.

As those of you who read my blog will know, I believe that great businesses have great strategies. A plan that helps leaders and employees understand the role they have to play in driving value - or growth - for their shareholders. However, strategy is not enough. It is only one ingredient in the pie - it is not the pie.

As many of you who work with the likes of Accenture, McKinsey and such like will know, preparing strategies for business takes enormous intellectual horsepower, transforming businesses to the extent they become dynamic and progress is important but, what about delivering innovation to the coalface - to your customers.

It is my firm belief that successful businesses must deliver innovation in their strategy - one ingredient, but they must also deliver innovation in the way they deliver that strategy.... and product innovation plus customer experience are the second and third equally important ingredients in doing this.

In Middle East, as in Africa, Pakistan, India, and all the markets I serve, innovation means different things. Take the Middle East. One of our clients here (@EmiratesNBD), are extremely progressive in offering their customers the latest and greatest innovative digital solutions, you can do all kinds of clever things with their app. However, one might argue that what is missing is the connection between this app, it’s experience and the experience in their branches and online.

In Pakistan, the majority of the population do not even have a bank account, so what does customer experience mean to them? Something completely different. First, one has to listen, educate and create (a business plan, services and products that speak to the needs of the population), only then can one craft a connected experience around the business that demonstrates trust and the value the business adds to every individuals life.

In the Africa, we are seeing great strategies from banks like @equitybank who have the best minds (arguably in the world), working on building their offer. However, once again, I believe there is a crucial and critical oversight in the bank’s strategy. It is all very well listening, educating and then creating innovative products and solutions for you customers, but if they cannot use them, or the customer experience is so disjointed that they cannot make sense of the offer, the bank begins to leak opportunity. Rather like a ship with a hole in it - that hole will eventually sink the vessel.

Creating value therefore is not about producing heavy process, thick reports and intellectual concepts. Value is delivered through having a clear understanding of where you want your organisation to be, listening to your market, educating your market and creating a customer experience around what you do that builds a profound and lasting connection with your audience.

My guide to creating value

  1. Understand your business capabilities

  2. Listen and understand your market - do not be afraid to innovate. Remember if Henry Ford had asked people what they wanted, he would have designed a faster horse

  3. Build the systems and procedures to deliver products and services that people need - also offer products and services customers don’t know they need - who would have thought we need an iPad until Steve Jobs told us we did. Avoid Dancing Bears.

  4. Wrap your offer in a customer experience that differentiates you from your competitors and connects your organisation with its employees and customers in the most profound and meaningful way - compare businesses you like, with ones you don’t and study the differences - learn to think like a maverick, be brave, make mistakes and do not be afraid to say sorry - your customers will love you more for this

  5. If all of this seems a little daunting, get in touch, we’ll be more than happy to help you

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