Beta-i partnered up with Galp to help bring customer-centricity into the culture of Galp. This resulted in the project “Think Like Your Customers”, a training program focusing on human-centricity through design thinking.
According to an article on Harvard Business Review, the greatest barrier to customer centricity is the lack of a customer-centric organizational culture. Since most companies are product-centric, or customer-centricity is a concern only in marketing or customer care functions, to implement a customer-centric approach to business is necessary to have a culture that aligns with it — and leaders who deliberately cultivate the necessary mindset and values in their employees.
What is Customer Centricity?
A customer-centric approach adds value to a company by enabling it to create a unique user experience and differentiate itself from competitors who do not offer the same experience.
A customer-centric approach to business entails:
Thinking like a customer
Dealing with needs, not wants
Providing solutions, not just products/services
Focusing on Customer Lifetime Value
Being proactive instead of reactive
Getting out of the Building
In order to shift into this strategic centricity, it was important for Galp to lean in one its strategic pillars: to enable employees for a cultural shift and give them the tools and skills to problem solve.
To be client-centric you have to be employee-centric.
João Filipe Torneiro, Head of Marketing & Business Development at Galp
For João Torneiro, Head of Marketing and Business Development at Galp, it’s clear that to innovate in the energy sector it’s essential to transform the internal culture: “A company like Galp, a leader in the sector, cannot afford to not move into customer centricity, and in doing so, cannot afford to not take risks. Which is what our team is doing.”
To achieve this, Beta-i devised a training program for Galp’s collaborators focusing on human-centricity, using design thinking methodologies.
The program had 60 participants across different departments, from retail to marketing and tech.
The first phase of the training consisted of workshops in design thinking and the customer journey, customer interviews and prototyping.
Then, the employees put their new learnings to the test – by actually going into multiple Galp gas stations and convenience stores and interacting with real customers in order to identify their pain points and their unmet needs.
For the second phase of the training, they worked in groups to focus on a particular problem and, through ideation, find and prototype a customer-centric solution for the gas stations’ customer experience – actually becoming innovators the way startups do, with coaching from the Beta-i team.
The final show
The final results and proposal were showcased to the Galp collaborators on a small private event. The excitement in the room was palpable, as participants showcased and explained their innovation journey to other colleagues. These projects ranged in scope – from payment solutions and digital solutions to the reinvention of the space and purpose of gas stations.
Susana Quitério, from Business Intelligence, shared her experience in the project, noticing how the methodologies and first-hand experience can add and complement standard market research, and even how the research became even more relevant in the support of innovation.
Even for employees working directly with operations of the gas stations, the new methodologies allowed them to “take-off the operations manager hat” and find new approaches to the business and rethink what they can offer to consumers.
It was challenging to walk the customer’s journey and try to understand each phase and its pain points. It definitely made us more creative in regard to problem-solving.
As highlighted by João Torneiro, and also Joana Teixeira, Beta-i’s project manager, the experience achieved its important goal: changing the mindset towards customer-centricity and acquiring the skills to problem solve.
“This is a great outcome thanks to the joint effort of our team and Beta-i, who brought the added value of the knowledge in methodologies and innovation experience.”
Digital transformation is taking over a large spectrum of industries, with the integration of digital technology into all areas of business, fundamentally changing how companies operate and deliver value to customers.
In the vanguard of this transformation is Free Electrons, the first global energy accelerator. Applications results reinforce Free Electrons positioning as the world-leading innovation platform for energy-related startups, the current edition had 481 applications, with 90% new entries.
We spoke with Manuel Tânger, Head of Open-Innovation at Beta-i, about how Free Electrons incorporates innovation methodologies to bring innovation to the sector.
What are the main innovation methodologies Beta-i is bringing to Free Electrons’ innovation framework?
Free Electrons is a program focused on creating the best conditions for the most innovative utilities to work with startups in order to innovate. This sounds easy, but it’s quite hard. To facilitate this, we focus very heavily on making pilots happening as a way to test profusely and ultimately get to the coveted deals between utilities and startups. Experimentation is, I would say, the core methodological concept of Free Electrons. But to do this, these pilots need to be thought up, designed, implemented and followed-up on. We, as Beta-i, have to create the moments and the mindset needed for both utilities and startups to think creatively on how they may work together and maybe do something that no one has ever done before. In particular, we use a “pilot canvas” that helps startups map out possible pilots to then be analyzed, discussed and fine-tuned with the utilities.
How do you build a framework that adds value to both startups and utilities?
When interests are fully aligned, then naturally what is good for startups is good for utilities. Utilities want to innovate and bring to market the best and newest offer possible, which generally involves new technology and business models. On the other hand, startups want a large audience to their niche product/service to be able to scale and improve their high performing product even more. Free Electrons makes this possible by design.
What are the key elements/moments in it?
It’s a long process from the partners’ needs assessment to the demo day, but one of the critical moments is the Bootcamp – which is happening right now in Dublin. It’s where startups and partners’ meet for the first time and try to look at the future together – and then pilot a solution for this future. It all happens in one intense week, and it has to work from then onwards.
By putting into contact these startups and quickening the speed of their scaling through collaboration with large global utilities, Free Electrons is, without question, accelerating this transformation with great benefit to all!
How do you think Free Electrons is helping re-shaping the energy sector worldwide?
The energy sector is going through a massive transformation with the consolidation and application of new technology. It is now cheaper to produce energy by solar than any other mean. Batteries are almost at a price point to make it competitive to store in the production luls at scale. Micro-production is now turning users into producers and contributors to the network. Electric vehicles are huge now and upcoming energy consumer but also batteries to be used as network balancing. Smart meters are gathering very fine-tuned user data that is propelling the appearance of new business models due to the data. This same data helps utilities and users maximize energy usage while minimizing the cost and also allows utilities to reach out to new spaces that go beyond energy and into services. These are a few of the highlights of the tectonic shift happening right now in the energy market. And startups are working on all of them! With the focus and zeal characteristic of modern tech entrepreneurs. By putting into contact these startups and quickening the speed of their scaling through collaboration with large global utilities, Free Electrons is, without question, accelerating this transformation with great benefit to all! To us, normal energy consumers, to startups that scale to grown-ups and utilities that capitalize on being first to embrace this change.