Do your customers value what you do for them? Is your team able to articulate the value of your service or product?
If your answer to both of these is ‘yes’, then well done, you can move along.
More likely, your answer is a slightly vague ‘I think so’, or some other expression of hesitancy. Perhaps your folks are able to list the tasks a service encompasses, or features a product offers, without necessarily being able to relate the real value of that.
Conveying the value you offer as an organisation can feel rather nebulous. Where do you start?
Start with the customer.
A customer’s view of your offering is the sole driving factor in whether they will continue to invest their loyalty in you and your organisation.
Your customers’ perception of the value of your service is not measured against your demonstrations of high service activity levels or feature-laden apps, but rather it is measured against what they perceive is valuable to *them*. Does your offering satisfy their needs, and does it do it faster, better, and probably cheaper than the rest? How do you identify their needs, and align or augment your offering to them?
With a product, this might seem rather straightforward. You solicit feedback by way of fix and enhancement requests, and you prioritise them according to apparent need and ease of implementation. The processes are well defined, features are obvious to the user base, and the usage or take-up of any new feature is easily tracked.
Defining the inherent value in a service offering or package is challenging. The temptation is to simply open the lid on the black box, and catalogue every detail of the service, down to tools used and activity breakdowns. After all, if you can show how hard your organisation is working on this service, isn’t that a demonstration of the value?
It probably isn’t. Opening the black box in and of itself is not enough, and may not even be desirable. Allowing visibility to inner workings exposes the organisation to interference and judgement. Why is this being done? Why is it being done in a certain way? Why don’t we do something else? The drive should in fact be towards proving value in the activities performed, not just describing those activities.
For example, is there value in listing the 300 alerts you responded to last month for a customer? The benefits to the customer in the response to those alerts is far more interesting to all concerned. If you can articulate the team responsiveness, minimised downtime, performance gains, and most particularly, added business value, or other tangibles to your client, then it carries much more weight than a lengthy list of activities that might vary day to day or month to month.
This approach carries other advantages. It allows you to tailor your processes and tools as part of your cycles of improvement without having to adjust your messaging to your customers. The value should remain constant – or, of course, improve! You won’t need to explain internal variances that might come with such changes but are relatively meaningless in the delivery of value in the service. Are you now, for example, only responding to 30 alerts this month? Explaining a 90% reduction might sound like 90% less effort, and therefore could be perceived to be of less worth than the previous month, but actually the value is consistent or better, and you have just made improvements that allow you to deliver that same value to the client.
When articulating value in this manner, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to operate in a completely closed-off environment. Your clients should have visibility to your organisation, with ease of access to both staff and resources that are able to describe how you arrive at the definitions of value. But, in delivering that message, you will also be able to build a relationship with your clients based on trust, appreciation, and most importantly of all, loyalty.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on your own experiences as a customer. Do you have any stories of perceived lack of value in a service?
This article first appeared on my Linkedin publications in December 2017