The experts are telling us that in today’s economic environment if you want to keep and build your customer base then you need to learn to add value. Value is your differentiator, value is what will make you standout from your competition. So what does that mean to “really” add value? Isn’t it enough that you deliver a high quality product or service to the prospects and customers who want it, why do you have to add value?
In today’s marketplace what you sell, your product has become a commodity. Think about it from the customer’s view, in this day and age of the Internet and global competition, it not the product your customers are buying it is the experience they want. In other words the extra added value they believe they are getting. So no it is not enough to just to deliver a high quality product you have to add customer value.
To really add value you need to be more proactive, more tuned in, and more action oriented when it comes to creating the customer experience. You need to create the opportunities to provide the kinds of things that make your customers say “wow.” Things that make them tell their friends about you and best of all those things that keep them coming back. It is value that makes customers emotionally connect to your company, and understand that doing business with you is different (better) than with your competitors.
Adding value is more art than science. It needs to be consistent and seamless for your customers. Best way to explain value is to show you, show you a missed opportunity to add customer value.
Last week, I received a letter from our estate attorney. The letter was asking my husband and I to contact their office to set up an appointment if we had any questions or concerns about our estate. The letter also asked that if we preferred to be contacted by email to simply call the office.
Well, that sounds like a pretty good letter right? They were offering to help if we had questions, and even went so far as to ask how we would prefer to communicate in email, call or in person. Well, let’s look a little closer, while they technically did everything right, they missed the opportunity to really add value.
Here is the rest of the story. I have been clients there for over three years, and I always communicate through email. I made it clear right from the start, with all of our service providers, that the best way to communicate with us is through email or via cell phone. Part of adding value is being easy to do business with, and understanding (and remembering) how your customers communicate is a big part of that.
As I did have questions, I went on to email the office to schedule our appointment asking for a Friday about three to four weeks out. The response, that I received via phone call, was that our attorney was not available on that date, and I was given some Tuesday and Thursday mornings she had time to meet. Now again, I have been clients for three years, and each time I schedule appointments I have to remind them both my husband and I are with client Monday to Thursday and we can only meet on Fridays.
The assistant also informed me I needed to schedule ASAP, as my attorney is ver busy and those dates were not guaranteed to remain available.
I trust that my attorney wants us to feel valued and engaged as clients. But, at the close of this letter I felt more emotionally disconnected than I had before I received it. Why? It is clear to me they do not really listen to what I say. The very fact that I got a letter asking me if I would prefer to communicate in email, after I have already told them I do. The very fact that I have shared my schedule with them over and over, yet they still try to schedule me on Tuesday and Thursday, and lastly the reference to how busy my attorney’s schedule is made it sound as if they are doing me a favor in setting this appointment.
So what could our attorney have done to “really’ add customer value, and what can you do to use value to stand out from your competition?
First, make a commitment to get to know your customers and listen to them. Take notes, make lists of what is important to them and what they need to feel important.
Two, remember! If you asked a question about how they want to be serviced, then remember it. While asking questions is part of adding value, listening and following-thru as it relates to their needs is what completes the process.
Third, be proactive. Offering ideas, and ways to improve your clients experience before they ask is what really makes you standout from your competition.
In today’s marketplace competition is fierce, the consumer is far more selective, and the available cash to spend on services is limited. Do yourself, your business, and most importantly your customer a favor, and listen to them, acknowledge their needs, and remember the unique aspects of your relationship with them. Your return on investment will be worth your time.