Do you know what produces the most value for our customers today? Many companies are looking for new, tangible value to incorporate in their strategy to win customers. My friend Robert Tucker over at The Innovation Resource has come up with six ways you can examine our overall value proposition to strengthen your strategy. I’ve shared three of them here, and a link to the other three. Check it out:
1. Take on the customer’s problem. Powerful things begin to happen when you go beyond merely trying to sell products and services. Instead, strive to understand the customer’s unmet and unarticulated needs. Are you the customer’s trusted advisor, advocate, problem-solver, coach and partner that you say you are? Value-leading firms start by walking in the customer’s shoes. They think deeply about the job customers are struggling to get done. They look for unmet needs and underserved customer groups, and they take action.
Example: BankPlus, in Jackson, Mississippi, took a fresh look at unbanked consumers in their region, those caught up in the payday loans lending cycle (typical interest rate: 400 percent per annum). Research revealed that a surprisingly large number of these people were police officers, teachers, health care workers and others who simply managed money poorly. They responded to this problem by creating CreditPlus, an innovative program offering low-interest loans to unbanked consumers, provided they enroll in a three-hour financial literacy seminar. Today, BankPlus is recognized in community banking circles for having taken on their customers’ problem. And for signing up a growing cohort of new and appreciative customers in the process!
2. Make the customer’s life easier. Every business (and every product offering) has a “convenience quotient.” The customer calculates it by dividing his or her desire for fulfillment by the hassle and annoyance (and time) that must be endured to complete the transaction. Ask your team: Are you easier or harder to do business with today than a year ago? Are your hours of operation reflective of today’s busy lifestyles? What about customer-irritating policies, procedures and complicated voicemail systems that block rather than enhance communication? Take action: Survey customers to discover the most frustrating aspects of doing business with your company. Consider offering extra measures of convenience and simplicity and you will add incredible value to today’s harried consumer.
Example: Car accidents are stressful. So Boston-based Plymouth Rock Assurance, pioneered Crashbusters, a program designed to lessen the hassle of the claims adjustment process. Their mobile claim representative will meet you at a time and place that’s convenient for you to assess the damage to your vehicle. The policyholder receives a check on the spot, so repairs can get underway. And if you want to outsource the entire process, Plymouth’s Door-to-Door Valet Claim Service provides one-stop fender bending repair.
3. Provide access rather than ownership. Access rather than purchase is the mantra of the Sharing Economy, and new entrants such as Spotify, ZipCar and Uber are transforming industry after industry. Incumbent firms can profit from this trend as well. Ask yourself: what do we currently sell that could also be made into a service? Look for more and more product categories to continue to increase in the years ahead, including automobiles.
Example: TechShop, based in San Carlos, California describes itself as a “health club for geeks.” Customers pay a monthly fee for access to its R&D labs, but don’t have to purchase or maintain expensive equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutters and oscilloscopes. With nine locations so far, the concept is attracting small businesspersons, students, and hobbyists of all skill levels, who gain access to expensive industrial tools and equipment without incurring the cost of ownership.