According to my friend Doug Morse, “The value of a product or service is only in its intended purpose.” I further believe that:
- Value is expressed in currency units like $’s.
- Value is not created until the buyer starts enjoying the benefits purchased.
- The value proposition does not become realized until benefits exceed costs.
So what? Who cares?
We all should care because in B2B selling (and much of B2C also) the purchase of your products or services depends on how well the salesperson explains the value the buyer will obtain and how it compares to the purchase price. The other selling strategy is to be the lowest cost seller, but most buyers know that with low prices come lower something else like warranty, support, start-up help, features, or useable lifetime. Smart buyers want the lowest lifetime cost of ownership combined with the highest return on initial investment – they are desperately concerned with value.
What Does This Mean For The Service Executive?
I don’t know of any service organization that can make a customer happy if he purchased a crap product that does not live up to it’s advanced billing; i.e., it does not deliver the promised value. If the product inherently delivers good value then the service organization can make it easy for the customer to get to the “break-even point” and then start operating in the “profit zone.” This concept is shown below:
For the Service executive this means that it is your responsibility to ensure that the customer realizes the promised value sooner than expected and that he is financially ahead of the game. Your organization has to understand the customer’s expected value, measure the actual value delivered, and take responsibility for closing the expected vs. actual gap. This requires a different set of skills from just performing routine maintenance and a new outlook on roles and responsibilities.
- Before your engineer went to a customer to perform the first scheduled maintenance, he checked the files and discovered that one of the customer’s requirements was to run 10 samples within an 8-hour shift. When he arrived, he learned that the customer was only running 5 samples per shift. He discovered that the process time was set to 90 minutes, not 45 as recommended. Maybe the customers would have said something or maybe she would suffer in silence and then put the instrument in the corner.
- Your customer calls tech support with a question, which was easy to answer. The support engineer then asked the customer to check the software revision he was using. The engineer then was able to determine that they were not using the latest revision, which eliminated a few potentially serious bugs that were known to cause errors. The support engineer remotely updated the software and avoided the possibility of system crashes.
Both examples show that a “thinking” support person can easily increase the customer’s value obtained from using your products.
Planning for this new role is what service strategy is all about.