“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
As a business owner, do you know what unique value you provide to your customers? Do you know what you do better than your competition? Do you know what your competition does better than you? Do you measure your customer satisfaction?
Part of every company’s market discipline should include a plan and a process to identify and track this information. Every person, process, procedure, system, etc., within the company should have the one goal in mind of creating and maintaining a unique customer value.
It’s not good enough to be as good as your competition, nor does being cheaper than your competition work these days. Customers are smarter, choosier, and more disciplined and they have information about your company and your products/services at their fingertips. Make one customer happy, and that customer will tell a friend. Make one customer unhappy, and that customer will tell ten friends.
So, it’s important to remember how you stay in business. It’s by providing a unique customer value.
How do we do this?
Customer Value Definition – First, understand what the term “customer value” means. Generally, it refers to what a customer gets from a product/service, as well as the entire customer service experience that surrounds obtaining the product or service. I would add to that the pre-sale support and after-sale support that a customer realizes as part of the entire customer interactive process.
What does that mean to your company? Do you even know what your company does better than your competition? How much leeway do your customer service representatives have in order to provide unique customer value? Do your pre-sale processes and your post-sale processes provide unique customer value? Do your products/services add a unique customer value? Do you have a customer value proposition that your company lives by? It’s extremely important to ask yourself these questions.
Customer Value Proposition – A customer value proposition is a promise that your company will deliver specific value to your customers. By extension, it offers customers the reason why they should purchase from you over your competition. It should identify your product/service relevance and how the product/service solves the customer’s problem or at the very least, improves the customer’s situation.
Do you have a customer value proposition? Does it outline your promise of value and solutions to your customers? A statement without backing is just words on a piece of paper. Words without proof are idle statements that will soon fall on deaf ears. Once you create and publish a customer value proposition, you’d better be ready to live up to it.
So understanding what unique customer value means to your company and creating a value proposition that makes public your promise to your customers, are extremely important. The most important thing, however, is ensuring that you can live up to your promise.
Strategy, People, Processes – Understanding customer value and creating a customer value proposition are important first steps. Now comes the most important step of all, implementing it throughout the organization. This is where the rubber meets the road – creating the culture that centers on delivering unique customer value; ensuring that the organization structure, the business processes, the leadership, the middle managers, and the entire staff all support the “promise” that you just made to your customers.
If you have a new company, this is much easier because you are starting from scratch. If you have an established company and have realized that what you initially set out to do is not what you are doing currently, you have a little more work to do. In this case, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s my strategy for implementing what I just promised?
- Do my current business processes support the promise I made in my value proposition?
- Do I have the right management people in place to implement and support my value proposition?
- Do I have the right organization structure? and do the activities that go on within that structure support my value proposition?
- Do I have the right customer service people in place to support customer value?
- Do I have key performance indicators or other metrics to measure the success and support my value proposition?
- Am I utilizing my employees to the best of their ability? Am I leveraging their skills and experience to better support my value proposition? Do I hire and retain the best employees?
First identify where you are in each area. Next establish a plan to improve, update, and implement what you need to meet the goal. Third, measure, measure, measure. Establish what metrics you need to make sure that you are supporting and continue to support the value proposition.
Once you can answer these questions, you are on your way to being able to market and support your unique value proposition to your customers.