Many businesses in 2022 are likely going to see a flat-to-down year in terms of volumes due to supply chain issues. We know this, and the challenges are getting worse, not better.
I’m finding that a number of companies are stuck in a “here and now” mindset and only focused on trying to save 2022. But I believe that is akin to hunkering down in a locked room where the walls slowly begin to close in. Leaders must focus on the future to achieve growth. However, it’s not just about forward-thinking. That’s too linear. For the sake of business and relationships with customers, I believe organizations must push through the fear, step out of the present and begin to peer around the corners toward 2023 and beyond.
Ensure you’re ready for what comes next.
Instead of only trying to save 2022, focus on making 2023 a growth year, not a win-back year. Assume the supply chain will be alleviated because when it is, you want to be sure you still have a customer base to service. Those who aren’t peering around corners, who aren’t being anticipatory and who aren’t being innovative with their go-to-market strategies are going to be left behind. I believe they’ll find themselves in a game of catch-up and operating with a stagnant or even a losing formula.
More importantly, those who aren’t focused on the needs of their customers now will pay the price later. Because the barriers to entry are filling in, it’s getting easier by the day for competitors to move in on an existing customer base. Ensuring that 2023 is not a down year requires you to take care of customers now by boldly peering around corners and understanding customer dynamics.
From one CEO to another: Your customer service should go beyond availability. You need to be honest and ask yourself, are you really good at customer service? Do you have the right mindset? Do you have the tools in-house? Are you agile enough to adjust or to be proactive and think ahead in terms of advancing your go-to-market strategies? Are you meeting customers when, where and how they want to be met?
It’s all about being proactive versus being reactive. That’s ultimately the winning formula.
Silence is not golden.
Customers are not ignorant about the supply chain and its impact on trade. They know there is an issue and probably assume you are just as frustrated—but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to hear from you. Silence does not lead to confidence, and ignorance is not bliss. So, when the supply chain is alleviated, if you were silent during the crisis, you will probably be met with silence in return.
Don’t close yourself in a room and fail to meet the needs of all of your customers today. You might not have supply, but you can provide more predictability with consistent, relatable communication. Share plans about the future. Tell them what is happening in real time. Prove your agility and display the confidence you have in the plans for a future beyond the crisis.
When you peer around the corners and share what you see, your customers gain insight and can begin to plan as well. Instead of silence provoking exodus, you’ll attain loyalty through shared experience.
Next year doesn’t have to be about recovery.
If you aren’t making customer service a priority in 2022, you need to ask yourself: What’s the lifetime value of a customer? How much does it cost you to earn them back? How long does it take? And how do you even know if you have lost customers if you haven’t been communicating with them?
I believe availability will soon be alleviated—and customers will remember who communicated well and demonstrated a forward-thinking and innovative mindset. Use consistent communication in 2022 and build forecasts to minimize the loss of your customer base.
Peer around corners. It’s not too late to make 2023 a year of growth.