Five Steps Towards Delighting Your Customer

by Diana Fischer, on Oct 6, 2016 1:00:00 PM

“The customer is always right.” It is one of the most fundamental tenants in business and marketing. How many of us actually know how to capitalize on its true meaning?

Before getting into management Value.jpgconsulting, I operated several physical therapy clinics for a large rehabilitation group. Like most of our competitors, we would look for new and exciting ways to increase and delight more clients. Most of our staff meetings ended with brainstorming ideas of services we thought that our clients would like. After all, we all were very familiar with what are customers needed. Decisions were made on the best ideas and rolled out over the next few months. Sometime our ideas would lead towards great successes adding to the bottom line. Other times, they were poor performing failures. Regardless of the performance, both outcomes were very costly. These new services required costly modifications to our people, process, and technology. And more times than not, what we thought was innovative for our clients, turned out to be an undesirable offering.

In these highly competitive times, organizations are continuously looking to differentiate themselves from their peers through Value Innovation. The concept of Value Innovation is a cornerstone of Blue Ocean Strategy. It is the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost, while creating a leap in value for both buyers and the company. However, in order to meet and exceed your customer’s expectations while lowering cost, you must first deeply understand the value of your enterprise from your customer’s prospective. Only when you look through your customer’s lens can move past competitor’s offerings and move towards Value Innovation.

In a recent workshop with one of our customers we took the guess work out of the equation. We discussed a 5 Step Process that has helped many teams build a Customer Value Profile for their organization and lead them away from the competition and towards true Value Innovation.

  1. Identify your customer segments – Who are your customers? Can they be segmented by geographies, risk categories, etc.? Are there any synergies across any customers? Each segment has different expectations of your firm. After breaking down your segments, then prioritize them. You cannot pay equal attention to all customers.
  2. Identify your key customer experience factors – What parts of the customer experience are most valued by your customer? What parts of the experience are so essential that they should be elevated well above industry average? What components are so overlooked by the customer that they can be eliminated or reduced to below industry standard? This allows you to focus on key factors that your customer values, and nothing else!
  3. Chart “as is” factors relative to competition – Start plotting the current customer experience factors on a scale of low, average, and high. This scale shows what factors of your value proposition your organization currently puts emphasis on today. Next, use the same factors to map where your competition places emphasis today. You will likely find that your firm and your competition place emphasis and resources on different factors.
  4. Chart “to be” factors for breakthrough innovation –Once your organization has decided what new value propositions to offer, you can map the changes to the customer experience factors on the Customer Value Profile. You should consider eliminating activities that do not add value to your customer or distinguish you from the competition, and emphasize those that add differentiation and value in the eyes of the customer.
  5. Map customer experience factors to processes – Lastly, look at the difference between the current state and the future state. Where ever there are differences, it implies that your organization’s business processes must change. For each factor that is changing, make sure to note which processes impact future performance.

Re-Think - Ric MerrifeldThis 5 Step Process will help you to see your business through the eyes of your unique customers. In the upcoming blogs, I look forward to revisiting each of these topics in more detail so that you can apply them more fully to your own businesses. However, if you are particularly interested in the topic of Value Innovation today, I would recommend that you take a look at Re-Think: A Business Manifesto for Cutting Costs and Boosting Innovation by Rick Merrifield. Rick is an expert in the field of Value Innovation and takes things down to the operational level so that business leaders can apply concepts quickly.


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