In his book, The Self-Destructive Habits of Good Companies: ...And How to Break Them, author Jagdish N. Sheth offers sage advice: "shine a light on the dark places in your business. Uncover self-destructive habits before they destroy you."
Understandably it's hard to kick a bad habit, but with dedication and self-observation you can successfully break the most common bad business habits. Here are four to eliminate in 2015:
Protecting old ideas instead of inventing new ones
Just because something worked before, doesn't mean it will continue to be relevant in the future. If you want to stay top of mind with your audience, you'll need to change along with their changing needs. Ban the phrase, "that's the way we've always done it" from your office and encourage employees to think differently, challenging their own status quo, day in and day out.
Google, for example, has instituted a 20 percent policy where Google developers get to spend 20 percent of their working hours every day on side projects. It was an attempt to give employees the time and space to think innovatively. The policy works well, with some of Google's most successful products originating from the program.
Failing to adapt to changing customer demands
No matter how well your company is positioned in the market, you may not always be on target with your business strategy, especially if the business landscape changes. The failure of big companies to adapt to changing circumstances is one of the fundamental problems in business.
Your business isn't alone if you find it downright difficult to effectively manage volatile customer demand. Nokia serves as an example of a business that failed to recognize consumer changes going on in its market and missed the smart phone revolution as a result. The company owned leading-edge technology to change with the demands, but it struggled in converting awareness into action. Complacency, a lack of innovation, and a complex organizational structure led to Nokia's missed opportunities.
Keeping the same products or services even after customers indicate a problem with them
Executives say they want innovative new products and services, but they expect them all to succeed. Needless to say, this attitude breeds a culture unwilling to change. An environment that encourages trial and error is the solution.
What good is establishing voice of the customer initiatives if you're unwilling to change when you hear the feedback? Customer feedback can uncover flaws in your organization so before setting up your next customer survey or focus group, decide if you're going to act on what you hear, for the most successful customer feedback programs are built on a foundation of listening and responding.
The voice of the customer program at JetBlue, for example, involves 50,000 monthly surveys. The company also listens to customers via unsolicited email, social, postal mail, etc. For JetBlue, the collection and analysis of VOC data has one goal: action. The airline uses VOC to drive customer experience, operational improvements, and accountability.
Not connecting customer channels
It's nearly impossible to deny the power of having an omnichannel presence in encouraging customer loyalty and brand advocacy.
In fact, earlier this year the results of a Forrester study, "Consumer Desires vs. Retailer Capabilities: Minding the Omni-Channel Commerce Gap," revealed consumers' growing adoption of multiple channel use with a single brand. For example, 69 percent of consumers expect store associates to be armed with a mobile device to perform simple and immediate tasks; 73 percent stated that they are likely or very likely to visit a local store if the retailer provides in-store product availability information online.
Walgreens is a brand that has been in tune with these changing customer behaviors and in response has been strengthening the connections between its online and in-store channels. The drugstore chain's mobile app includes features that are designed to help customers save time while enticing them to visit a Walgreens store. App users, for example, can print photos from Instagram and Facebook at a store, refill a prescription by scanning the RX barcode on their phones before picking it up, and exchange text messages with a pharmacist.
Walgreens released data in 2013 that showed customers who engage with Walgreens in person, online, and via mobile apps spend six times more than those who only visit stores.
They say it takes 21 days to break a habit. When you're back in the office on January 5th, start your business assessment, take one step each day, and don't lose sight of your goals. Soon you'll be on the road to a strong and prosperous 2015.