Man working on customer value proposition

Are you giving customers what they really, really want?

Customer needs change. Have you changed with them?

May 16, 2017

A personal experience this week got me thinking about value propositions. I’ll tell you the story and then you can see what you think and how it applies to your business.

A story about value propositions.

I have veneers on my front teeth. I’ve had them since I was about 14. Back in the eighties there wasn’t much education or awareness about acid erosion, not like there is now.

If you thought the UK was known for bad teeth then you’d be right. It gets worse. Lancashire is known for bad teeth, especially my home town of Blackburn, which has the worst tooth health among 5 year olds nationally.

My first veneers were with compliments from the NHS. They were fine. They gave me a nice smile and covered the butterfly-teeth behind them.

Fast forward about 11 years. I was in my 20s and appearances were more important than ever. One veneer chipped and my NHS dentist had a waiting list too long for a front tooth so I found a private dentist who made smiles for soap stars.

She was wonderful, and pricey. I felt special and cared for and she replaced both veneers, giving me a lovely smile which stayed with me until recently. She applied lip balm to make me feel comfortable during the procedure and had flavoured numbing gels imported from America. Mmmm.

She knew her audience and had her value proposition sussed.

About another 11 years later a veneer came off. I no longer want or need a soap star smile. I just want teeth that look nice and function. My dentist knows this. She replaced just the one that needed replacing.

No flavoured gel, no lip balm to take home and no faffing over which shade of veneer to go for. My tooth is fixed and it looks fine.

Is good enough, good enough?

The numbing truth is that people don’t always want the best of everything. Sometimes good enough, is exactly that.

People don't always want the best of everything. Sometimes good enough, is exactly that. Click To Tweet

Neither dentist offered different levels of service. None gave me a choice. Priority appointments, material quality, flavoured numbing gel. Bronze, silver and gold.

Each service provider made a stab in the ground and gave no flexibility, no up-sell or cross-sell. Was an opportunity missed by my first dentist? You bet! Could my current family dentist offer a premium service? Absolutely!

The Kano Model

The Kano Model applied to value proposition development
The Kano Model

I was at a talk last night delivered by the lovely Dawn Holmes on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Dawn spoke of the Kano Model where for some companies there’s a direct correlation between service resources and customer satisfaction.

But that’s not the case for everyone. Often there’s a limit. A point of service beyond which there’s little you can do to improve customer satisfaction. You’ve done all customers want and have plateaued.

My NHS dentist did this, until appointments became difficult to schedule. My needs changed and I needed to see my dentist sooner. They didn’t offer a fast track or premium option, so I switched to someone who could give me that level of service.

Patients with cosmetic dental work have different needs and you need to be able to support this if you’re going to offer cosmetic services.

Sell, serve, sizzle, speak and save.

Although it originates in digital marketing, the 5s framework above is great for inspiring new ideas for your value proposition.

In terms of dentistry this is the branded lip balm, choice of flavoured numbing gel, private rooms for mouthwash with fruit fusion flavours, and the exclusivity of rarely seeing another patient in your waiting room.

It’s a useful exercise to think about these five areas in your business and what you can do to raise the bar. Be careful though, you want to raise it in the right areas.

Soon these customer delight factors will become normal expected service, as in the Kano Model above, so revisit your value proposition regularly to continuously improve it.

You might do something interesting with your product packaging, think how long it takes to open an iPhone box – it’s engineered that way to create suspense. You might go all out on service, without appearing creepy with all that data you have. Or, you might help customers to save time or money.

What will make your customers truly happy?

This is the big question. There are lots of ways to find out the answer.

Customer surveys.

Not the headache they used to be as you can do customer surveys online using the likes of Survey Monkey or Smart Survey.

Response rates are on the decline due to survey fatigue, but if you regularly engage with your customers and follow best practices you can get the answers you need to cross-check your value proposition.

Focus groups.

Focus groups are a useful tool for gauging reactions to new ideas. Invite a group of customers into your office or a neutral location and share with them some of your plans (under a non-disclosure agreement if needed).

Ask for their feedback. User groups are a great forum for gaining this type of insight during a product development phase, and are common in IT where alpha and beta panels are used to test new functionality.

One-to-one interviews.

Either in-person on the phone, ask customers to tell you about their experiences with your business, what support they’re looking for in the future, why they buy from you and where they think you can improve. Ask them to rank their priorities – this may be an eye opener!

Social listening.

Monitor social media, forums and the press to hear what others are saying about your company, your products and services and your competitors. Start with Google alerts and extend to your social monitoring tools.

Sales and service teams.

Listen to your internal teams; they may be giving you the insight you need.

Sales and service people talk to customers every day. Service people tend to hear when things go wrong so may be well placed to recommend improvements that matter to customers, and sales people can tell you why customers are leaving you or looking for alternatives to your competitors. Use this information to your advantage!

Continuously improve your value proposition.

Whatever it is your customers are looking for, keep talking to them and keep listening to what they say. You might not want to respond to every whim, but you do want to spot trends and adjust your value proposition accordingly.

If you’re looking for support in gaining customer insight or improving your value proposition, simply call us on 01254 457016 or email for a no-obligation consultation.

Other articles you may be interested in:

Why you need to know your business’ why.

How to write your marketing plan on just one page.

B2B Marketing Expo 2017: Content marketing tips from the top.