As the UK draws ever closer to the 29 March deadline for Brexit, businesses are clearly concerned about strategic decisions and how to maximise future revenues in these highly uncertain times. Organisations from all sectors are weighing up their strategic choices, including reviewing their own performance and identifying the big obstacles that lie ahead. As one director of a large housing developer said to me recently, “We are doubling down to be ready for whatever happens”.
The stats don’t lie – the UK’s falling levels of business investment are clear (see chart below). We are falling significantly behind the level of investment in G7 countries. These are uncomfortable times.
But how can organisations respond? As Farrah Storr, Editor of Cosmopolitan, explained in a recent lecture at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) hosted by the Department of Management series, “We are operating in the Discomfort Zone, but that is often the time when we make our best decisions”.
Double down on research and data analysis to make the best decisions
Understanding your strategic context – who your competitors are, the markets you operate in, and your historic financial performance – is essential. Researching your consumers, customers and prospects can give you valuable geodemographic data – things you can measure and count – to drive positive choices and successful business decisions. Global and national customer data can provide irrefutable evidence for identifying which countries/regions are credible options to target. Research can go even further to test and explore the design and launch of new propositions, technological changes, pricing strategies, etc.
To steer through these uncertain times, many organisations have been proactive in managing their customer relationships by improving processes that underpin customer journeys – such as helping to personalise customers’ interactions. Some have analysed drivers of loyalty by researching customers’ emotional reactions to buying. Other brands have introduced customer service initiatives and training that have resulted in better customer satisfaction, NPS and customer effort scores.
At Davies Hickman, we believe there is a huge opportunity for business researchers to steer organisations through these exceptionally unstable times and provide more fact-based insights to drive business success. Remember, we have all (well, most of us) dealt with uncertain times before in the not-so-distant past…
How we helped organisations navigate the 2008 crisis
During another challenging period (economically and politically) Davies Hickman helped steer businesses to greater success. Brexit may not mean a downturn for the UK, but if it does, we have experience to draw on. When the global recession hit in 2008, Davies Hickman offered something positive to organisations amid uncertainty. We supported organisations to develop innovative business strategies to get through those turbulent years. For example, we worked with:
– L&Q, a leading housing association, to generate a range of buying options for consumers feeling the financial squeeze. We suggested different ways to help first-time buyers get on the housing ladder (and contributed to clearing their stock of newbuild).
– Cisco, a technology conglomerate, who wanted to understand the then emerging segment of customers – Millennials and Generation Z. We made recommendations about what those customers expected from organisations, which brands impressed them and why.
– Imparta, an award-winning training company, to explore how organisations could rebuild customer trust underpinned by collaboration and communication strategies. The research fuelled their B2B marketing effort.
In uncertain times, robust data gives market and customer insights that can inform decisions about new markets, geographies, customer segments, technologies, processes, and even employee training. These can all highlight the kinds of business decisions that are needed to build revenues for the post-Brexit (deal or no deal) future.
Jo Davies Director, MBA, MIPD
Davies Hickman, Enabling better business decisions for our clients with innovative research, data analysis and training
Photo credit Starline