Currently, the literature and published articles are busy describing the needs and wants of the future customer and how companies should prepare for the one-to-one, on-demand, all access, modular-priced product expectations from the customers. And yes, customers’ expectations are changing, their demands are increasing and companies must react to this in any way possible to secure future success – or even just survival

What I don’t see so much are similar concerns about the change in the companies’ workforces. Your colleagues are customers too, so these are the very people that disrupts the markets and driving profound changes in the way companies create their future products and services. But internal disruption is not as high on the management agenda – at least not in the MENA region

It’s fair to assume that the very people expecting all-in, all-on, do-it-yourself products have similar needs and wants for their workplace – if you demand full service and product flexibility outside your work, the same needs and expectations are prevalent when you’re at work. Here they’re just not catered for, because you’re not a customer

But changing the internal work environment has historically proven to be much harder than changing the way customers buy products and receives services. However, it’s about time to understand and accept that these internal changes are necessary to really meet the customers’ expectations in the future. If you want your customers to experience a new world of exquisite service and product offerings, your workforce must be enabled to deliver on this, too

This is harder, as managers don’t feel the same compelling need to change as the case is for the customers. But it’s a change that must happen – if not immediately, then gradually. If the employees are not tuned to mirror the changes in customers’ expectations, I don’t see how the company will be capable of delivering a truly new and exciting customer experience

Customer-fronting flexibility in service and product development requires a similar flexibility from the organization and the employees – a company cannot be flexible and accommodating in real-time if the employees are not in a situation to act immediately (and extensively) on customers’ demands. And this flexibility goes all the way, front front-line employees to product development, operations and finance. They are all interconnected and a vital part of delivering a cohesive, complete customer experience

Easy to write, hard to do. I know. But that’s not an excuse for not initiating the required change processes. Begin bite-sized. Identify areas with big impact and little internal change; authority levels, office timings, increase of horizontal responsibilities (so the employee ‘own’ a larger share of the customer journey) etc. Just make sure to begin

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