Great businesses are not merely built on service but exceptional service and great customer experience; and an important element of their success is the value-proposition they deliver to their customers. Great businesses understand that for them to thrive and survive, they need to be constantly focusing on delivering value to their customers.
“Exceptional businesses differentiate their offering on service and not necessarily price alone because research has proven again and again that consumers are willing to pay a premium, provided they “get great service” and great value for what they are paying for”, says Femi Adebanji, Customer Service Speaker and Expert.
Femi, who heads the Service Excellence Institute, South Africa, further goes on to add that if organisations want to deliver the type of value that sets them apart, then they first need to be clear on two things: Firstly, what their “value-proposition” to their customers is and secondly, be clear on how their customers define value. “Otherwise, you might think you’re offering your customers value and be completely off the mark”, says Femi.
He goes on to add that in the customer-economy where we find ourselves, the truth is that the power has shifted from businesses to consumers and thanks to the power of social media, consumers now have the power to shift and shape perception for or against brands. Consequently, businesses must focus a lot more on asking themselves – how do we deliver, tangible, exceptional value to our customers while delivering a seamless and hassle-free customer experience?
If your value-proposition is not compelling enough, the fact is that potential customers will end up buying from your competitors and not from you. ‘A simple way of coming up with a compelling value proposition, says Femi, is to ask yourself the two important questions your customers are asking themselves, which is “Why should they buy from you and not your competitors and secondly, what’s in it for me?”
So, getting the value-proposition right requires a deep understanding of our customers and potential customers – how they think, their lifestyles, their purchasing patterns, what’s important to them, their wants and needs, what experiences trigger emotional responses and ultimately how their customers define value. Once businesses understand this, they then need to design their value-proposition from the outside-in (based on what customers are telling them) and not only from the inside-out (developing a value-proposition they ‘think’ their customers want).
“At the Service Excellence Institute one of the things we stress in our training programmes is that compelling value-proposition that sets a business apart ultimately come down to continuous customer research, because value is never about how a business perceives value, but rather how its customers perceive value. As a business, you must be able to answer with clarity the questions your customers are asking – what’s in it from and why should I buy from you, otherwise potential customers will end up going to the competition”, adds Adebanji.
He further stresses that when customers make a purchase decision, they are not merely looking to purchase just a “product or service”. They are constantly seeking value relative to the price they are paying. They want brands that have proven their worth, they want to deal with sales reps they can trust, they want convenience relative to location and access, and they want to experience outstanding service in the process. When a business can fulfill these requirements, they stand out from the competition and give themselves the best opportunity to build a loyal customer base with the highest potential for repeat sales”.
Finally, Femi adds two words of caution – firstly, a business may in fact have a compelling value-proposition, a great product and competitive pricing and still fail to attract potential customers simply because they have not communicated their value-proposition to the market-place adequately and powerfully enough. Continuously marketing and communicating your value-proposition is vital for success. Secondly, as customer needs and wants change over time, so do their expectations and their idea of what ‘value’ represents to them. Hence, as their expectations and idea of value shifts, the business needs to be agile enough to adapt to those changes and the only way that is possible is through continuous market research.
Delivering superior customer value must be a primary focus of every business that wants to be perceived as a “brand of distinction” and thrive in the customer economy.