The businesses of tomorrow need to be agile, sharp, and willing to innovate to meet the constantly changing environments and needs of your clients. Enter the art of pivoting, an essential tool in any future-fit business.
The whole concept of pivoting has been brought to the fore in recent years due to pandemics and movements and all manner of reactions to the consistently changing landscape. It has been a means of surviving and, ultimately, thriving in tumultuous times.
Yet, we don’t need a crisis or challenge to embrace these very principles and build an adaptable business.
Every business should be moving forwards. Every business should be listening to their clients. And every business should be looking for new and better ways to do things to solve a problem or respond to a requirement.
The future of business lies in setting it up to recognize when certain expectations aren’t being met to the fullest and then being willing and able to respond. Pivoting is a change in strategy, and it should be progressive, pre-emptive, and positive. If you stop learning, you stop growing.
And whilst pivoting should be a change in strategy, it does not always mean a change in vision and purpose. It applies to every aspect of business, from the smallest amendment in how you position yourself to an all-in complete change of strategy, either way it is about driving business forwards to better serve customers and the market.
Pivoting is a mindset, one that needs to be nurtured in business, in all your people and in your processes. Chances are that you are doing it already, some of the time, in some instances. Pivoting will be harder to do successfully when you become complacent and when we stop listening and learning.
However, there are things that you can do to begin to instill pivoting in your business.
How to nurture the art of pivoting.
Listen. To your clients. To your data. To your people. To your market. How well do you really know your customers? What are the behavioral shift patterns telling you? What is the competition doing?
The information you require to make decisions is out there, it is about hearing it, being honest with yourself about your current position, and setting a clear goal. Your clients will tell you what they need, whether through a direct request or your customer service team or more subtly through what they are buying or which marketing tools they respond to.
Businesses need to be consistently and constantly monitoring the information. Only when you have good quality raw data can you analyze it, pulling out trends and needs that you can then, in turn, pivot, if necessary, and respond to. Starbucks’ customers were initially people who enjoyed great coffee at home but through listening to the market they realized there was a shift to café-culture and pivoted to address this.
Create a seamless customer experience. It’s no secret that keeping customers happy is key to any successful business and that will not change for the businesses of the future. However, it’s important to remember that going above and beyond doesn’t necessarily mean grand gestures or constant fuss.
Instead, it’s important to focus on delivering prompt and efficient responses and solutions. It’s about delivering a seamless experience that meets their needs and exceeds their expectations. This approach is essential for building long-term loyalty and achieving a gold standard in customer satisfaction.
What really matters is demonstrating how you can make your customers’ lives better, how you can take a load off them, and support them to do business better. You need to do what you say you are going to do, do it well and yes, go above and beyond, but where it matters. Gold standard customer service is about efficient, smooth, and consistent delivery. A complete and positive experience.
In knowing your customer, their touchpoints, and valuable insights you can provide support in new ways, sometimes even before they know it themselves and then you can pivot to realise the solutions.
Here, it is essential to remember that personalization is key. Every business is unique. And so, every business will have different needs, requirements as well as opportunities and weaknesses that you need to know and support. Personalized updates and suggestions are a key component of gold standard customer service.
Delivering this consistently builds you loyalty. And it also builds you ambassadors. It boils down to seven tenets:
- Understand your customer
- Deliver convenience and ease of use
- Be proactive in anticipating requirements and needs
- Personalize your service/solution
- Communicate. Communicate. Communicate
- Keep your promises
- Never stop asking and acting upon feedback
By prioritizing the ease of the customer journey, you establish a strong foundation for building long-term loyalty and business success. This approach ensures that customers receive efficient solutions and seamless experiences that go above and beyond. And through making this a fundamental part of how you do business, you can build a resilient and agile business too.
Set yourself up to succeed. Make change and adaptability a fundamental part of your business, your culture. That way pivoting isn’t a massive change, it is simply the way things are done. Create an environment where people feel safe, there is a shared sense of purpose, and the focus is on transparency and communication. Demonstrate that you yourself are adaptable. Encourage curiosity, learning, innovation, mistakes and, ultimately, become comfortable with fluidity.
If your culture and your strategy don’t line up, there will be disconnect and disharmony. Pivoting should be at the heart of a business strategy, not an afterthought. It should be a way of doing business that places businesses in a better position as they move into the future. A great example of this is Amazon. It began with selling books back in 1994 but Bezos never treated it as a retail company, it was a technology company for online selling. This perception is how the business has pivoted and succeeded, with the initial concept of book sales, now a digital product with the Amazon Kindle.
Respond. You have the culture. And you have the data. The next step is to act. The key to successful pivoting is to act as quickly as possible. It is about looking for new opportunities and evaluating them for growth. Not all the opportunities will be worthwhile or suit your particular business.
Take Kodak, a name synonymous with photography for so long, but a company that refused to respond to the digital photography revolution and then had to file for bankruptcy.
Pivoting has traditionally been kept for responses to technological advances such as these and worldwide events, as way to expand markets and remain relevant. But what if we apply the approach to business all the time? What if we make it our business strategy? What could we achieve then?
Some could argue that pivoting is a last ditched attempt to survive and a huge risk. It can be if it is left too late. What it should be is small adjustments, made frequently in response to your data, until you find the right fit (for now).
As a business leader, it’s important to understand that pivoting is inevitable. The markets and industries that you serve will change over time. The key is to prepare your business for a preemptive approach. Instead of waiting for your market to tell you to pivot, it’s better to be the first one to spot the opportunity and respond. By doing so, you’ll be able to stay ahead of the curve and remain relevant in a rapidly changing business environment.