"Customer Service: Understanding Value - A Customer-Focused Approach"
Newsletter Sep 10, 2014
Customer service can be one of your organization's hidden, but most effective and cost-efficient promotional tools. Whether you are a sales rep, manager, executive, or business owner, it is important to leave a powerful positive lasting impression on the clients and prospects who buy your goods. This newsletter can help your organization continue to succeed even under difficult economic conditions, by excelling at customer service.
Warren Buffett once said, "Price is what you pay. Value is what you get." As a manager or executive, it is important that you understand and communicate the aspects of your organization where your customers find value. It is crucial all employees, regardless of their rank or level, exude client value and reinforce this daily. Key question - is everyone actually clear on the points of value you bring to the customer? Do you merrily presume they know or have you actually educated them very precisely on this topic. Is what you and the team think is value, what the customer thinks is value? Uh oh!
The best way to understand a customer's perspective is to examine your own buying decisions. When making a purchase, you usually consider three critical factors: where to buy, whom to buy from, and which brand. The answers to those questions result in the customer value equation. Here are some ways to help you think about your own organization's value equation.
Supplier View - is how or where the client buys the product. The easiest or most convenient, the better. For example, McDonald's is such a successful fast-food restaurant because it has so many locations and because it specializes in fast service. Are you easy to do business with? Are your systems buyer friendly or just focused on your own internal control needs? Check the supply flow to eliminate steps which make you a pain to deal with from a buyer viewpoint.
Consultant Value - is whom we purchase the product from. Depending on what you purchase, you may have varying levels of trust in order to feel confident in your purchase. For example, All State insurance agents handle only one geographic territory, and as a customer, you will have the same agent all of the time. That agent will help you deal with the complexity of an insurance claim. We all generally prefer the devil we know rather than the devil we don’t. We all want to do business with people we like and trust. Great, but what makes you likable or trustworthy? Consistency, reliability, honesty, care, our best interests at heart – this is what we want in the person handling our business.
Product Brand Value - is the brand name that you purchase. Many people rely on brand names to help them make their purchasing decisions. For example, Tylenol pain reliever is a very highly regarded brand, and people continue to purchase it because they trust the product, even though there are less costly generic alternatives. Brand helps to overcome risk and uncertainty. So brand building efforts pay off. It could take a while but unless you start now, building your brand will never happen. Are you leveraging your brand? Does your internal setup reinforce the brand, is the brand experience consistent? It is always illuminating to call or write to your own business and see what happens when the phone or email is answered. What the boss thinks is happening may be a fantasy!
Take these three factors and apply them to your organization. Add them up and you will have your organization's value equation. This practice will help you identify successes and areas where you can improve your customer experience. An improved customer experience will help your organization succeed well into the future.