Business leaders #SpringintoFearless this Year of the Tiger

Artwork by Angela Ho, Sam Lo and Rex Koo

Lunar New Year is an opportunity for us to reflect on the past year and a chance to set our sights on the year ahead – both in our personal and professional lives.

This year, the Year of the Tiger, business leaders should be inspired and encouraged by the tiger’s traits of confidence, agility and fearlessness. As we head into a third year of disruption and uncertainty, these traits will be critical for business growth and success.

To discuss how businesses can tread boldly into 2022, I spoke with Belina Lee, Mandai Wildlife Group chief strategy & innovation officer, to find out how the Singapore company, which manages the majority of the country’s zoos, has navigated the past 12 months and the opportunities that lie ahead.

As a business that is heavily reliant on tourism, Mandai had to find ways to remain agile and pivot when their parks could no longer take visitors. Through experimentation and digital innovations, Mandai was able to bring the experience of the park to consumers through technology.

Through our discussion, Lee reveals how leaders can leverage digital innovations and customer insights to courageously take on new challenges and drive business growth in 2022.

Agility and technology in response to COVID

Lee describes Mandai’s response to COVID across three key parts; pre-COVID, at the height of COVID, and living with COVID. During the different stages of their response, having the agility to adapt quickly and pivot in new directions, as well as embracing the power of technology, have helped Mandai to continue to maintain and strengthen relationships with their customers, Lee says. Having unique insights into both their employees and their customers also enabled the Group to continue to strengthen its connections with customers during the lockdown periods.

For employees, Mandai realized that many zookeepers were already regularly photographing and videoing the animals during their day-to-day interactions. Seeing this as an opportunity, instead of hiring content development teams, the park developed a prototype platform that allowed the keepers to submit their captured content to be curated, edited, and shared, giving their audience unprecedented access to the zoos’ unique animals.

For their customers, Mandai drew insights into best delivering content through experimentation. With the animals as the core attraction of the park, Lee says they asked themselves how they could continue to build long-term relationships between the animals and customers from home. Through a diverse range of virtual programs at the park, their customers were able to keep in touch and interact with the animals without physically visiting.

While businesses begin to re-open around the world, the pivots that many made during COVID create an exciting opportunity for the future, says Lee. For Mandai Wildlife Group, it is just the beginning of their digital journey, as they continue to try and “discover what the hybrid experience might look like,” Lee says.

The new hybrid experience

Providing a hybrid experience will be vital for business leaders in 2022. Managing the balance between physical and virtual is important, as neither transitioning to completely virtual, nor completely face-to-face can provide the right level of engagement for all.

We have to think about now, our dimension of business continuity and the risk of impacting that by attending a virtual event. We have to build that into our thinking when we want to engage our customers on any kind of experience, whether it’s physical or virtual.

“A pure, virtual world is also not quite the right experience to deliver,” Lee says. “The experimentation that we need is to learn from others that have also taken this path in other industries, to find that winning formula of the hybrid experience that Mandai can bring to the world. We would be testing and learning and failing and that’s okay, we would just get back up fearlessly and continue.”

Understanding the customer journey

The new year also brings a new phase for customer journeys. As technology, data and privacy expectations continue to shift, so too must a company’s approach to providing personalized and individually tailored experiences.

“As we continue to track the customer journey, we realized that just like air travel, it starts well before you board the plane,” Lee says.

In 2022, businesses should prioritize mapping their customers’ journeys to help in the development of personalized, pre-imposed and omni-channel experience.

For Lee, customer journey mapping is helping Mandai to be better equipped to understand the behaviors of the customer before they enter the park. In having this prior understanding, Mandai can deliver better personalized experience during visits, but also continue to strengthen relationships after the customer has left the park.

The Year of the Tiger marks an opportunity for all business leaders to embrace the confidence and bravery of the tiger. In a year of continuing uncertainty, it will be those who face the challenges head on who will thrive. Are you ready to #SpringintoFearless?