It’s easier to judge the value of a tangible good – a car, restaurant meal, kitchen appliance, office copier – because we comparison shop, read online reviews, seek opinions from friends and family, and then make our purchase armed with this information and guided by budget.
Defining Value is trickier for service providers who don’t sell tangible products. As a writer, I’m in this category. Likewise, it’s tricky for companies manufacturing products that thousands of others do, too (like commercial printers).
In these cases, the stakes are higher when customers judge our Value.
Part of what customers evaluate is Service. In my own case, Service is a combination of how fast I deliver my product, how accessible I am, how quickly I respond to clients’ requests, how well I listen to clients, and how pleasant and professional I am to work with.
The Quality of my product (or yours) is something totally different: It had better speak for itself, or we’re out of business. Mediocre or lousy print jobs will send any customer packing, as will unacceptable copy.
It is the Value that concerns me and should you. How would customers describe the unique Value you provide them? Do you know what they’d say – or what they’re even looking for?
It helps to think of Value as getting more for our money. This works for all sorts of service providers. If you can articulate what this specific Value is that you offer and provide your customers, you can then use it for different reasons: to develop new business, to communicate to your sales and service staff so they’re on board with it, to measure your unique selling proposition by, and to market your business in all sorts of channels.
Stop and think about what your company’s unique Value to customers is. These questions might help:
- What extra knowledge or expertise do you bring your customers?
- What special skill or capability do you have that, while not directly affecting customer jobs, will certainly help them/their company in some way?
- What tips, tricks, or shortcuts do you regularly share with customers to make their work go smoother and save them time?
- What creative suggestions might you offer customers that cost you nothing yet make a significant difference to them?
- How have you let your customers know – lately and regularly – that you’re thinking about them and want to help them succeed?
- What related experience or passion do you have that will help your customers? Do they know it, and do you share insights freely?
- Why should customers work with you and not your competitors – what do you bring to the table aside from your products?
Your answers will be different from everyone else in your field, as mine are in my field. Focusing on what Value you bring to customers is essential. If problems arise with your products or services, and customers start questioning the relationship, they’ll end up with this very issue: “What am I getting out of this, and why on Earth should I stay?”
If you haven’t paid attention to the Value you bring, customers won’t hesitate to shop around.
On the other hand, when you provide great Value, customers stop thinking about what it costs them. They’re thinking, “I get so much more from this company that I’m never leaving them.”
(c) 2015 Margie Dana