Kerala reported the first Covid-19 case in the country and the number of cases in the state started snowballing immediately thereafter. But today Kerala is celebrated as the global case study for effectively containing the virus. There are many reasons attributed to this success; effective contact tracing, right amount of testing, a purposeful health minister, fabulous healthcare facilities for the infected, meaningful support for the caregivers and technology adoption.
Hidden beneath all these cognitive reasons is the biggest intuitive insight. Kerala’s system provide, even the auxiliary authorities; panchayats which follows a three-tier panchayat raj system, comprising district panchayat, block panchayat and village panchayat, with full empowerment to govern the local affairs.
The state’s leadership that brought together the well-motivated local bodies, the state legislature, the bureaucracy, including a bunch of young, dynamic and fully empowered district collectors and law enforcement on a single agenda and their common purpose to operate from the very same page has been the bedrock of Kerala’s Covid-19 success.
What can organizations learn from this?
Marketing as I have been seeing and experiencing are also rooted on the cognitive realm and as a result digital transformation ended up as process automation and digital marketing (although I don’t understand this term) ended up in customer churn because of the focus at the bottom end of the value chain; customer acquisition, based on a theoretical philosophy, lifetime value, but no one bothered about creating those experiences at the point of customer expectation, simply because none could stitch together a meaningful, intuitive single view of the fluid customer journey across disjointed paths. Marketers even ended up paying for their own data.
Most organizations are struggling with the phenomenon called customer delight. The fundamental need for an effective customer-facing strategy is mitigation and subsequent elimination of the frictions on the customers’ journey path towards the brand. This cannot be achieved unless the organization as a whole comes together and embraces this as common agenda.
Currently, not only will the teams in these organizations justify their inability to achieve a single view of the customers, through graphs, charts and complicated dashboards, which according to them are relevant, understandably so too, but they will also never realise, that the output is what their briefs, as a reflection of the internal structures, where customer-centricity is yet another department, demanded.
The other danger these organizations will run into will be of creation of insecure leadership who wouldn’t ever recognise their nonconformists, dissenters and rebels, who David Ogilvy had once said are the real talent. For organizations, now more than ever before, intentionally spotting and developing such talent is the need for survival in the upcoming new normal.
Organizations that empower their employees normally brim with the spirit of common purpose and collective ownership. This is not the type of empowerment that happens through internal memos or townhalls. This will be the culture in the organization which applies to be CEO and doorman in equal terms. Such cultural will make the doorman as much of an owner as the CEO and lend a helping hand to a visitor, needing some help, rather than turning a blind eye because he is doing a job, following set rules and protocols.
Imagine what would happen to the vision of Jeff Bezos for Amazon to be planet’s no. 1 customer-centric company, if the call-center executive is not trained and not empowered to be able not to take judicious decisions then and there, as far as an unhappy customer is concerned?
Imagine what would have happened to Taj Hotels which is rated on top among the best customer-centric organizations in the country if the room service executive was faced with rules that forbad him from serving a customer who made a special request, for a reason, for the complimentary breakfast to be made available in his room?
Most organizations spend time, money, energy and resources in building all the cognitive elements, completely ignoring the most important aspect. Empowerment simply makes organization agile, employees motivated, customers delighted and businesses more profitable.
Leadership do not need to be fearful at all about empowering their people as this process will actually help them in separating the wheat from the chaff; those who are not empowerment worthy will get easily called out.
Kerala Government’s Covid-19 extremely simple, and very insightful dashboards, compared to the other states will tell volumes of the empowerment and common purpose story too.
After all, it is an inspiring brief that will help the ad agency produce the best brand story. But, how can a Marketing Director doing just a job ever produce an inspiring brief?
Article is authored by S Yesudas Co-founder, Y&A Transformation Pvt Ltd