TNXTO launches customer centricity programme for London-based organisations

31 May 2018

Consultancy firm The Next Organization (TNXTO) has launched a new research programme for companies in the UK’s capital city that are seeking to bolster innovation in their marketing departments. By participating in the programme, the initiators highlight that valuable insights can be garnered for further enhancing customer centricity.

Customer needs are undergoing rapid change on the back of new trends and technologies entering the scene. As a result, business contexts are rapidly evolving, with companies finding it difficult to navigate the change and successfully embed future-proof business models into their DNA.

One of the areas that is being heavily impacted is client-facing operations, which besides facing pressure to transform to meet new demands, has also been elevated to the top of the boardroom agenda. Topics such as customer excellence and customer service have become increasingly important strategic differentiators. “It is nowadays of crucial importance that companies become more customer centric and gain a more in-depth understanding of their customers and place them at the centre of value creation,” explains Yasin Sahhar, a Consultant and PhD researcher at The Next Organization.

Founded in 2010, The Next Organization helps to improve the commercial performance of profit and non-profit organisations through innovating and improving business models, with a focus on strategy, marketing, sales and digital. The firm’s base is based in Bussum (the Netherlands), the consultancy meanwhile is expanding its offices into the UK (London) and Ghana (Accra).

TNXTO launches customer centricity programme for London-based organisations

It is in the firm’s Dutch headquarters where the Value Proposition Research Programme (VPRP) was first rolled-out. “Several organisations have joined our programme in the Netherlands [including Thales, CED, and Riwal] with the aim of becoming more customer centric, and now we have decided to launch the programme across the North Sea too,” says Sahhar. “Organisations based in London are invited to participate.”

Becoming more customer centric

“Through participating in this one-year research programme, organisations become familiar with the latest knowledge in the field of marketing and ultimately become pioneers in customer centricity,” states Sahhar. “Better understand one’s customers paves the way for offering more innovative and compelling products and services, which down the line will positively impact performance.”

At the heart of the firm’s programme is what the organisers call a new perspective on value, called “value-in-use”. Sahhar: “It enables a more integral and in-depth view on customer insights. Using this approach, from strategy through to execution, enhances the customer’s value experience. Besides this, the programme focuses on how organisations successfully can become part of the customer’s value creation process. In other words, it allows organisations to ‘co-create value’ with their customers.”

The fundament of the research program is supported by leading academic research developed in collaboration with the Dutch University of Twente. In addition, the programme cooperates with companies to add practical knowledge to the academic fundament.

London-based organisations seeking more information on the Value Proposition Research Programme can contact Yasin Sahhar directly.


Branding the modern consultancy: why reputation hinges on it

03 April 2019

The reputation of firms and brand strength remain a key aspect of business in the management consulting industry. Karla Alexander, Brand Manager at Propero Partners, below reflects on the state of reputation management in the consulting industry.

In a time where public perception is enough to make or break a company, the wise are reminded that when it comes to brand and reputation, the strength of one does not necessarily equate with the quality of the other. Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in the impact a spate of recent issues has had on firms that form the backbone of the industry, including KPMG and Grant Thornton.

Such was the damage to KPMG’s reputation last year, that the Bank of England took the decision to investigate its viability following a string of high-profile corporate scandals. Whether or not the sum total of the firm’s track record is enough to restore its image remains to be seen.

This proves that brand and reputation are not only among the most valuable intangible assets – they are also among the most fragile. And their reach extends into the centre of any firm, regardless of its size or market share.

The lesson here for challenger firms and smaller consultancies is two-fold. As well as learning from the mistakes of their peers, it’s also important not to conflate brand with reputation. While they both share the same objective – to win the hearts, minds, and wallets of clients – brand provides the opportunity to differentiate, whereas reputation provides the opportunity to demonstrate credibility. Far from being the same thing, it’s this very difference that binds them together.

Branding the modern consultancy: why reputation hinges on it

Reputation is the driving force behind a person’s decision to award a firm their business, based on values that align with their own – be it honesty, transparency, integrity, accountability. However, none of these characteristics are particularly compelling or distinctive on their own. To carve out key points of difference, to stand out, and to become known, liked, and trusted among a sea of competitors offering similar services, companies should turn to their brands.

Brand is the culmination of culture, vision, values, and identity, which when used consistently and religiously, can create fresh opportunities for firms. People no longer buy services in isolation but look for a purpose or a lifestyle to buy into. Strong brands create an appetite for themselves and command a higher price tag because people will pay for them. The more pulling power and emotional resonance a brand has, the more successful the firm will be.

Protecting a brand

That’s why, regardless of abundant choice, there is still only one Deloitte, one PwC, one EY – and there’s a reason why the Big Four audit nearly 100% of UK’s top 100 corporations. This relentless focus on building and protecting their brands and reputations on the basis of being the best, has, over time, resulted in a market monopoly. However, problems arise when one is given more weight than the other. This point is particularly relevant in the case of KPMG, and in others where firms have flaunted their reputation for being untouchable in the face of the client.

Brand and reputation working together are directly attributable to significant business outcomes (such as financial performance, loyalty, awareness) and should be treated as such. Focus too much on brand and you risk alienating the people who value credibility, such as prospective and existing clients, shareholders, and the best talent. Focus too much on reputation and you risk stagnating in the market, with a service that no one knows or cares about.

In order to overcome these challenges, the first step for many firms will be to take a step back. Before any meaningful work can begin, consulting firms need to assess the current state of their brand and reputation, and establish key characteristics for both. For brand, this might be relevancy, consistency, positioning, identity, and appeal. For reputation, this might be staff turnover, service quality, growth rate, client relationships, leadership, and diversity and inclusion.

Regardless of the findings, there’s always room for improvement. An uptick in the performance of brand and reputation can be achieved by measuring the impact that one has on the other, integrating business and marketing strategies, and setting strict KPIs.

Guardianship and getting results from this activity isn’t the job of one person or one team. People at all levels of the firm should be thought of as brand ambassadors, and should be willing to do what it takes to protect the reputation of the business no matter the cost. After all, everyone benefits when good things are said about a firm when it’s not in the room.

Related: Why building trust and brand belief is key for consulting firms.