CONTI Evolution in the Media
BLOG: Have you Determined your "Wider Value"?
As an entrepreneur and business owner, I spend a lot of my time to assessing and re-assessing how we can deliver more value to our customers. This is the core of my work as a business owner. From this work, I've coined the term "wider value". By this I mean thinking beyond the obvious value points and digging a little deeper to assess where you REALLY deliver value to your customers. I believe that every business has "wider value" and sometimes neither your business or your clients are acutely aware of those values, until they don't receive them! I feel I need to force our business to think outside the box to really understand our wider value; a constant process. Here are 5 ways that our customers told us that we deliver "Wider Value" to them. I hope this can help you determine your "wider value" to your customers.
CFB Esquimalt Firehall and Emergency Ops Centre
1. We Respond Quickly- this seems obvious, except that almost nobody does it. When we restructured our client engagement team, we set a goal to respond to client inquiries within minutes, rather than hours (or days). The results have been amazing. Our clients have gone out of their way to tell us that they have marveled at the speed with which we respond to them on their first contact. Some have even said it's creepy how quickly we respond to their requests - I like hearing this! I know of at least one case where we secured a strategic relationship and more than $200K in profitable business because the client was wowed by our speed of response and fast action when they first called us. By the time we were off the phone on the first call, they were already 2 steps down the sales process. The competitors just melted away. In the end, the client was very happy. This is a also fundamental tool in building trust, which is discussed in point #3.
Earls Restaurants Corporate Boardroom
2. We Make Their Lives Easier- We can never forget that our best customers hire us to make their life easier. As an example, one of our customers has dozens of locations across North America. They could attempt (and have done so on several occasions) to locally source a provider in each local market and may in some cases be able to score a short-term win by finding a low cost provider. But the downstream costs to their business are much higher. This approach creates significantly more work for their internal staff who have to manage a procurement process with an unknown vendor, "train" a new vendor, deal with the inevitable bumps that come from a new vendor, and ensure that communications flow properly. Our best customers work with us in an ongoing basis because they trust us to be honest and transparent with them, and they know that we make their lives easier and save them a lot of time and effort. This is worth a lot of money to our customers.
Delta Hotels "LURE" Restaurant
3. We Earn their Trust- Our best customers come back to us again and again because they trust us. We must always remember that we have to build trust with new customers, and maintain the trust that our long-time customers have in us. There are a number of tools that we've used to build customer trust, but trust is like a bank account... every time we reinforce their trust in us, we get more in the bank. If we damage that trust, it flows out of the bank. If we've earned their trust over and over again for a long time, we may even earn some extra credit! When a customer has faith and trust in your ability to deliver for them, it's a beautiful way to run a business. Everyone wins. The hardest thing for our competitors to overcome is the trust our clients already have in us. When your customer trusts you implicitly, they start to view your competitors as a risky alternative to your proven solutions.
Mahony & Sons Irish Pubs
4. We are a Single Source- we have several customers who started out engaging our services for one solution and slowly adding on over time. The reason is simple - they'd rather deal with a single vendor than multiples. This is more simple, more cost effective, and less risky for them. They're transferring the trust we earned with them in one solution segment into other segments. This has the power to allow you to multiply your business growth within the same number of clients. Again, a win/win. In our business, we continually aim to have fewer suppliers... this makes our life more simple.
Bath & Body Works
5. We Deliver Consistency- With our largest clients, it has become apparent to me that one of the absolute essential values we deliver to them is consistency. By consistency, I mean the consistency of the solutions we deliver; which makes implementation, training, and ongoing support more cost effective. By consistency, I also mean the consistency of process, and experience. Our customers know what to expect from us, they know our process and we know theirs. This allows us to work as a team to deliver better solutions, in a faster and more cost effective manner. Everyone wins. With our best customers, we have developed what I have affectionately coined a "point and shoot" relationship. They point at a floor plan for their project and we work our magic. No further explanation is necessary, and the client gets exactly what they've come to expect from us, without fail.
We have found that assessing our "wider value" has been a valuable outlook for our business. I hope you've found this post to be useful and thought provoking. What "wider value" do you bring to your customers?
Colby Harder is an entrepreneur, business leader, and blogger. He is also the President of CONTI Evolution; an audio video advisory services firm based in Vancouver. CONTI Evolution designs, deploys, and supports audio video projects across North America for major companies and brands like Earls Restaurants, Microsoft, SAP, and Nordstrom. Colby was named as one of Business in Vancouver's Forty under 40 business people in 2010 at the age of 35 and is actively involved in community endeavours including positions on several community boards and committees. In 2015, Colby has also become a mentor and coach in the Youth Entrepreneurship Leadership Launchpad (YELL) where he mentors a team of high school entrepreneurs.
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