You’ve spent months building your product portfolio and developing your company brand and purpose. But bear in mind this statistic from The Telegraph – ‘Over 60% of businesses fail in the first three years and 20 per cent will close their doors within just 12 months.’ This highlights the need for organisations to develop products and services which ensure the provision of long-term value and well-being for all stakeholders; alongside delivering your purpose to ensure success for the future. 

I work at Civica, an international software company and global leader in public services technology with 18 years of unbroken growth. But how has Civica achieved this growth? Here are three ways to build a successful business and strong customer relationships. 

Innovation, innovation, innovation

When I walk down my local high street I can’t help but notice the number of vacant shops, but what’s the cause? Mothercare, a UK mother and baby retailer, collapsed in November 2019. Its collapse hit headlines and forced the company to close all of its UK stores. The failure was blamed on Mothercare’s lack of innovation through the rise of technology, alongside not meeting the changing lifestyles and expectations of the consumer.

Another example is that as technology becomes essential to business function, the need for paper-based processes is being removed. Research, conducted by university academics in Manchester, Sheffield and York identified more than 230 million medication errors a year that took place in the NHS. In my role at Civica, I’ve seen innovation, eliminating the need for paper through Civica Prescribing; this cloud software is used by clinicians to help with the administration of medication. Having this system helps NHS staff to prevent medical errors through effective sharing of patients’ medical history. 

Research & value creation

Before developing any product, research is key to assess the need and consider the marketing plan. Failure can happen to any business, even those with a strong position in the marketplace. Microsoft, for example, tried to compete with the iPod by launching Zune in 2006, five years after the iPod’s release – the product was seen to offer little differentiation or value and failed after losing hundreds of millions of pounds in investments. 

A good example from my workplace Civica is the value it creates for its customers via efficiencies and savings: for example, in partnership with the Department for Transport, Civica enhanced its cloud-based Collision Reporting and Sharing system, digitally enabling police forces in England and Wales for road traffic collision management. CRaSH is used by more than 20 forces, unlocking savings of c.£7.5 million per year for police and government agencies. 

But Civica also creates value by investing internally in learning and development to ensure the people delivering the software or services are creating value for their customers by developing expert technologies. 

Relationships, are they worth it?

In 2019, consumer-body Which rated airline Ryanair the worst firm for customer service. When customers are left feeling undervalued and their complaints aren’t handled well they are unlikely to return for fear of the same treatment. 

At Civica one of the keys to success is not just being a seller, but a partner to customers. It works alongside organisations which support essential services for over 90 million people. Consistent development of these relationships allows Civica to support the delivery of vital services and safeguard communities. Hopefully you’ve never heard of the Foreign & Commonwealth Offices (FCO) Crisis Hub, because you’ve never had to use it. But through developing a relationship with the FCO, Civica have been able to assist in supporting ‘affected persons’ with help, advice, or in extreme situations, extraction from the affected country when a situation becomes unstable (because of natural disaster, political upheaval, acts of terrorism etc.).

Now we can understand that the success of Civica over the last 18 years all comes back to the mindful business model, breaking down its value creation for customers into three segments: Constantly seeking innovation to help customers make every day better, building stronger customer relationships to increase customer retention and using research and adding value to make sure they offer expert technology and innovation. Ultimately every organisation should thrive on having the perfect blend of all three to create commendable value for both their employees and customers.  

by Ellie Bell, Civica