In 2017, many companies still think that the only way for a business to make money is to sell their product or service, collect payment, and let the customer figure it out for themselves after that. To save face, many companies don’t admit this. However, their actions on social media, their actions after they collect payment, and even their actions after prospective customers seem as if they are not going to make a purchase tells the real story. In this article, we will define the concept of ‘adding value’, discuss the different avenues in which companies can interact with their client, explain why it is important to add value to your clients, suggest ways in which companies can add value to their customers and discuss the benefits of adding value to customers.
What does the concept “adding value to your customers mean”?
Adding value to customers can be inferred as doing activities to serve the customer beyond the act of selling a product or service (Baran (2014). Unbelievably, Powers (2015) expresses that companies should “start helping and stop selling” to their customers. After all, a disgruntled customer does not want someone to sell them something when he or she are upset instead they want someone who will listen to them and be honest in how he or she are trying to solve his or her issue. For example, if you are waiting for more than the proposed 15 minutes for your meal at a restaurant during your lunch break for the third time in a row, would you prefer if they gave you an honest apology about how long your meal is taking versus them trying to offer you a 15% discount on your next meal.
Channels that can be used to add value to your customers
Companies interact with their customers through their Operations, Sales, Digital Marketing – which includes Social Media, and Customer Service. Therefore, companies can add value to their customers through the customer’s experience from the very first phone call or moment that they walk into the store, to guiding them using the product or service, and being honest with them when apologizing for their poor experience with a product or service while trying to resolve their grievance as best as possible. Furthermore, they can also try sharing meaningful insight about things that matter to their customers which relate to their product or service and having conversations with their followers on social media.
Ways to add value to your customers and the benefits of doing so
Figure 1 – An image of value and factors that influence it
Baron (2015) revealed that companies can and value to their customers by:
- “Recognizing the customers have ‘LTV’ or ‘Lifetime Value’;
- Keep adding value by listening to what your customers want and improving what you do for them;
- Stay in touch with customers regularly, not just when you want to sell them something;
- Be as responsible as you can to customer requests;
- Continually update your knowledge and adopt new techniques and technologies to keep yourself ahead of the game.”
Baron (2014) further elaborates that you get to create the opportunity to realize the lifetime value of the customer (i.e. “the total amount that they are likely to spend with you over a lifetime”). This customer is likely to seek you first when they have any future needs for a product or service that is like what you offer or even try the other items that you may offer in the future. For instance, I enjoy going to my hairdresser, Babae Stylz Salon, because I always get a great hair style during my visit, they also give me a reasonable price and ways to help it to last if possible. As a result, I have been going there for the past three (3) years, willingly allowing them to gain more revenues from my continued patronage over the past three (3) years than what they would have gained from my patronage if I had only visited that Hairdresser once for the first time and never returned. Furthermore, adding value to customers and satisfying the customers’ needs helps to convert them into evangelists that will promote your brand for free. For example, what I just did with Babae Stylz Salon. Figure 2 illustrates this point.
Figure 2 – Illustration of the value companies can get from customers for the entire time that they shop with the company (Kissmetrics, 2017)
No one likes ‘take it or leave it customer service.’ Instead, people appreciate having their grievance listened to and using it to improve their experience at their next visit. For example, a Medical Centre received complaints from customers about the lengthy wait before getting to see the doctor even though they were on time for their appointments and were there before the persons who would have had appointments at different times before their appointment time. The person at the Front Desk could have half – heartedly apologized to the customers and proceeded with her usual activities un-phased by their grievance. Instead, that Front Desk person toke the initiative to listen and empathize with the customer, apologize, and implement their suggestions to reduce the length to time taken to wait and see the doctor on their next visit by improving the flow of clients to see the doctor based on their time of arrival (versus sticking to their appointment time only). By performing the later, those disgruntled customers enjoyed their follow up visit and left good reviews about the Medical Centre.
Dunn (2016) highlights that adding value to customers can acquire and retain customers, increase brand awareness, and differentiate one’s place in the marketplace. This will “improve the customers’ journey and experience”, especially if your company utilizing personal information about the customers to enhance their experience with the product or service they consume. Dunn (2016) highlighted in Figure 3 that 65% of consumers appreciated when retailers contacted them to confirm their orders and delivery information and 54% of appreciated when retailers provided them with discounts for items that they purchased in the past. This proves that by paying attention to your customers’ behaviours and using their personal information can benefit enhance the customer service experience and secure a space in the hearts and minds of the customer in the future.
Figure 3 – Three (3) justifiable uses of customers’ information from Dunn (2016)
A company that invests in improving their knowledge base can add more value to the customers by suggesting innovative and tailor-fit solutions that satisfy their customers’ needs. For example, an Event Planner that makes it a habit of attending other events, regularly watches YouTube videos on Event Planning and participates in event planning workshops will be able to suggest more innovative and effective event ideas than an Event Planner that only relies on what has been done before.
As Vaynerchuk (2017) explains “you can either be a utility, an escapism or entertainment. You decide which one.” Social Media allows companies to add value to their customers by providing an opportunity to be all three to their customers. However, many customers just focus on using it to portray themselves as a utility by only pushing advertisements or posts to promote their product rather than dropping valuable insights and creating content that will keep them glued to their page on the Social Media platforms. Brands like Foska Oats from Chas E. Ramson and Kendel from Kirk Distributors always stand out to me on Instagram because they exemplify how companies should perform on Social Media. Their posts promote their product, act as an escape (because I can easily spend an hour or two on their pages) and heir posts are very entertaining due to the creativity that they employ on their pages.
Rather than only try to sell to their customers, companies and gain more from adding value to customers by forming an emotional connection with their customers by fostering trust and loyalty which allows them to enjoy the benefits of adding value to their customers. One can infer from Baron (2014), the benefits of companies adding value to customers, you can gain new insights about the shortcomings of your product or services so that it can be improved and enhance the customers’ experience. Dunn (2016) insinuates that adding value to customers allows you to design future products or services that your customers would see the value in.
Bringing it all Together
You may not get immediate monetary returns when you add value to your clients. However, adding value sets your company apart from the other players in your market and creates evangelists that will promote your company to other prospective clients for free. Your company can add value to clients through Social Media, through their Operations, Sales, Customer Service, and After-Sales support just to name a few. Your touchpoints and encounter with the customers serve as avenues for your company to add value to them. If you use those opportunities wisely, then you can gain valuable Word – Of – Mouth promotion for your company and your brand.
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Baron, M. (2014). Five ways to add value to retain your customers. SmallBusiness.co.uk. Retrieved from: http://watchcartoonsonline.eu/watch/daria-s5-ep1-fizz-ed/
Dunn, M. (2016). How do we define value and how can we ensure we create added value to our customers? Experian. Retrieved from: http://www.experian.co.uk/blogs/latest-thinking/customer-value/
Kissmetrics (2017). How to reinvent the customer experience to increase Customer Lifetime Value. Kissmetrics. Retrieved from: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/reinvent-the-customer-experience/
Powers, K. (2015). 5 ways to create added value for customers. Vertical Response.Retrieved from: http://www.verticalresponse.com/blog/5-ways-to-create-added-value-for-customers/
Vaynerchuk, G. (2017). How to bring people value. Gary Vaynerchuck. Retrieved from: https://www.garyvaynerchuk.com/how-to-bring-people-value/