Ten Ideas Volume 2

Recent insights on issues of importance to senior business leaders

The idea that commercial success depends on satisfying your customer has existed since the turn of the 20th century. American retail magnates popularized the saying “the customer is always right” at about the same time French executives coined the phrase “le client n’a jamais tort.” In Germany, business leaders pioneered the concept “der Kunde ist König” – the customer is king.

Yet today, few businesses can keep up with customers’ shifting demands. Thanks to the Internet, consumers can easily compare products and services and can access impartial reviews in seconds. Consumers also have more choices: Twenty years ago, if you wanted a product you had to buy it from your local store. If you wanted a loan, you had to go to your local bank. And if you wanted electricity, you had one local power company to choose from. That is no longer the case.

In our era of persistently changing and ever-rising customer expectations, businesses must anticipate the preferences of their newly empowered customers. When we talk with clients, some common challenges come up: One is that growth is now a zero-sum game between competitors, in which consumer choices rule. Another is the rise of disruptive business models, which offer customers better propositions, often enabled by new technologies. A third is the shift from physical distribution to a digital or multi-channel model, which can put incumbents at a disadvantage to new entrants by forcing them to invest in digital advancements while running costly legacy physical assets.

The second edition of Ten Ideas from Oliver Wyman represents our latest thinking on what it takes for companies to remain relevant to their customers. We begin by looking at the importance of observing how other industries deal with empowered customers and basing innovations on customers’ positive experiences. Next, we explore how both the power and banking industries cope with customers who are also competitors. We then examine how evolving customer demands force companies to overhaul not just their products and services but also how they develop and deliver them. Finally, we turn to the healthcare industry to discover what it takes to re-orient empowered consumers.

We hope you enjoy reading our perspectives and that they spark a vigorous debate.

The Ten Ideas Editorial Board

Virtual Tour

We invite you to take a virtual tour of the latest edition of Ten Ideas from Oliver Wyman.

Ten Ideas Volume 2