UNCROWD AND IBM TO CO-HOST LONDON RETAIL DISRUPTION EVENT
We’re doing a cool event with IBM on the 21st, you should come. It’s about retailers opening up and asking the new questions. The questions that disrupt our thinking and dismantle our assumptions. I thought it might be a good idea then to talk about why ‘disruption’ might be a wanky marketing-speak word but is also absolutely vital to your survival in the new world where customers are fully in the driving seat.
I’m just finishing off the blueprint of a new format branch for a plucky and adventurous building society, one thing that has stuck out through the whole thing has been how willing the client has been to let us ask tough, challenging questions and how at the same time that process has been hard.
We’ve been through real pain together on this. The end result is that we’ve created something that goes against prevailing winds in high-street banking and that could prove magical. We’ve put the customer at the centre of the thinking, not in that bullshit PR way that seems fashionable but by getting them involved, advocating for them throughout and considering everything from multiple customer perspectives.
The resulting format is disruptive. It kills some frictions, acknowledges and mitigates others and it slathers the entire thing with a thick, tasty, satisfying layer of reward. Customers are going to love it and they’re going to buy more products from this building society. This at a time when mainstream banking has convinced itself that nobody really needs branches anymore.
We’ve got to this place in large part by flipping the core question from ‘How do we respond to rapidly falling in-branch transactions’ to ‘What value is there to customers in visiting a branch as part of making financial choices?’ We’ve gone from thinking about serving a declining transactional customer to instead letting the needs of customers drive our thinking towards what we can give to them that they would value. It’s reward-side gain versus the physical friction of visiting a branch. In this case we’ve uncovered the truth that there is huge value available to customers if we build the right spaces, having asked the right customer-led questions.
This is the transformation all retailers are inside right now. Some know it, others know it but not where to turn, some have absolutely won at it, and many have their heads in the sand and can be heard, mouths filled with fine aggregates, yelling ‘It’s all fine, nothing has changed, it’s just an adjustment, get through the rent demands this quarter and we’ll be fighting, COUGH/SPLUTTER fit for peak 2018’.
The Retail Disruption Unit might sound like it’s an anti-capitalist metaphor off Dr Who, but it’s not a TV weapon; it’s an extremely cool team within IBM iX, we’re chuffed to bits to be co-hosting the event with them, where we will be asking a heady mix of tech startups, retailers big and soon-to-be-big, and the odd investor some of the vital questions on modern customers. We’ll have answers too, by blimey we will. We’ve structured this one not as a startups-sell-our-soul thing but as a genuine exploration of the questions we startups exist to solve. Getting those questions right is one of the most powerful things retailers can do today.