Value as a Service is the simple idea that measurable value delivered for customers will be the ultimate competitive battleground. Every customer will want to understand the exact value that they are being provided. They will want a quantifiable difference as they compare their options.” — Rob Bernshteyn
The world is evolving, and the way businesses function is changing to match the needs of today’s clients. Today, managing costs is still a vital part of determining the best solution, but providing value is what makes a company stand out. What are your products and services worth? What is the incentive that drives people to your company over others? While many of the things that determine value can be changed over time using controlled variables, the social experience is a value element that is not easily mastered.
Securing long-term clients today is a matter of serving, instead of selling. What matters most is trust, credibility, and customer service. Your business must stand out amongst the competition, differentiate itself, nurture relationships, offer advice and guidance, and provide an experience. So how do you become a value-as-a-service company?
The key to any successful business today is to listen to the needs of your customers and proactively work to ensure their satisfaction. You should be taking the pulse of your customers frequently to ensure they are comfortable with the products/services you offer; ask them what new features they want to see and find out what pain points they are experiencing. You could be providing monthly webinars to touch base with customers, provide demonstrations, and answer their questions. Or you could schedule quarterly calls to catch up. If you are waiting a full year to connect with a customer, you are waiting too long.
Another key is to provide superior customer service. The dreaded automated answering service leaves many customers highly frustrated by the time they connect to a human – instead consider implementing a 2-ring policy with all employees chipping in (the phone must be answered by the second ring). It’s a more personal and pleasant experience for the customer.
Based on the feedback from your customers, your services should be ever-evolving to match their needs. Your customers’ comments are an opportunity to learn and grow. Consider developing a customer advisory board to provide focused feedback on current and new products/services as well as improvements in process and inspiration for new innovations. Your customers are the key drivers to your future roadmap, listen to them and soak up their feedback. Who better to tell you what you need to add to your product than the customer who uses it every day?
You should also be building up your employee knowledge. Ensure that the team supporting your customers knows what your customers do to support them fully. For example, CSI requires every customer-facing employee to be AP certified to ensure that they understand client challenges fully and are ready to step in to help. Train your employees to be a robust network of experts that can be tapped as a value-added resource for clients.
Your customers should see you as a source of thought leadership and industry expertise through speaking engagements, blogs, social media posts, email blasts, and any other medium you can touch. You can be providing advice and tips on how they can improve their business or their own job function, or even just best practices for using your product. You should be a curator for your customer – not just creating your own content, but sharing content on your channels that would be relevant and helpful to your customers. You need to create purposeful engagement with clients, reaching out to them to provide support. Differentiate your company from the competition by being the customers chosen industry resource. Provide your customers with concrete, identifiable value to keep them onboard.