Value, Trust, Customer Truths & Guiding Principles – Part 1 of 2
- What’s the real secret to success? What does it really take to WIN in the marketplace?
- It all comes down to providing Value and gaining/building Trust with big C customers (those that pay the bills, on a one-time or subscription basis)!!!
- Why are providing value and building trust so hard? And why don’t we focus on these key attributes more?
During a normal day at work, we spend too much time with our ‘heads down’, focused on our functional areas (i.e. marketing, sales, operations, engineering, etc.) and ‘firefighting’ today’s issues. We’re hoping to find time to work on this year’s or this quarter’s ‘top 5’ initiatives (to improve efficiency or effectiveness), so we can make some real progress to improve our team’s performance and our standing in our leaderships eyes.
Based on my experience, education, reading, and discussions with numerous ‘subject matter experts’ (clients, consultants, academics, colleagues, etc.) I find very little time is spent in organization’s discussing and defining strategies and tactics to deliver value and build trust with big C customers. We also haven’t done a good job defining what’s valuable to big C customers, and we certainly haven’t defined how we gain and build trust.
When I think about the products and services Intraway provides, I’m always looking for the big C customer value and trust levers we’re contributing to when we deliver our products. What benefit will the big C customers realize from the Intraway solutions that get deployed? To answer this question, I’d propose we must start with defining value and trust. Then understand which value or trust attributes our solution is impacting.
Starting with Value (relative worth, merit, or importance), I believe it is defined three ways.
- Meeting and/or exceeding expectations. Pleasing the big C customer and delighting them during every interaction/transaction.
- Worth what paid for. The product/service is priced fairly and competitively against similar products in the marketplace.
- Provide thought leadership. Prophesying and leading the innovation and technology trends that are relevant to the big C customers. Are your products and services providing value to big C customers day in and day out?
For Trust (reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence), I focus on the 5Cs (character, commitment, competence, connected, and communication). Character is defined as the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing. Commitment is defined as the act of committing, pledging, or engaging oneself. A pledge or promise; obligation. Competency is defined as the quality of being competent; having suitable or sufficient skill, knowledge, experience, etc., for some purpose. Connected is defined as to join, link, or fasten together; unite or bind. Communication is defined as to give or interchange thoughts, feelings, information, or the like, by writing, speaking, etc. to express thoughts, feelings, or information easily or effectively. Are your products and services building trust with your big C customers day in and day out?
I’d contend when there is an issue that escalates to a crisis, it’s not because the product or service has an issue, it’s because you’re not working on all the trust 5Cs and you’re not putting the big C customer experience at the center of your attention. During my days in the NOC, when we had our biggest outages, we incorporated the 5Cs into our incident command process. This assured all big C customers and internal stakeholders could trust that we were doing all we could to remedy the outage ASAP.
If you can get alignment within the organization on how to deliver value and build trust, it’s a good bet you’re working in an environment that is ‘customer centric’. Customer centric organizations put the big C customer first in every strategic and tactical decision taken. They are always working to improve the customer truths which encircle value and trust. The customer truths they focus on are:
- Better – relentless drive to improve the quality of a product or service. Moving past reactive, proactive and preventative to service assurance (it just works!!!)
- Faster – continue to drive delivery cycles to real time. Digital transformation has changed expectation to ‘I want it now and I should be able to get it now’.
- Cheaper – assuring your products and services are the lowest possible price compared with the competition. If you’re not pushing the cost lower and lower, your competition is.
- Choice – providing a variety of options/solutions. Provide a gold, silver and bronze level of your product or service and let the customer decide which product level is appropriate for them.
- Personalization – tailor/customize products and services to meet each customer’s needs. Do you know your customer and have you designed your products and services to meet their unique needs?
- Transparency – exposing your back office, processes, and organization to the customer. You shouldn’t have anything to hide. Open your environment up and show the customer what and how you operate. The best restaurants cook right in front of the customer. Do the same.
- Easy/frictionless – making the transaction or usage super easy, i.e. one touch ordering. Think how easy Netflix, Uber, and Amazon are to use. Is interfacing with your organization easy?
Companies like Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, and Apple obsess about the customer truths. No decisions or initiatives are approved that don’t incorporate improvement of one or more of the customer truths in the solution. This approach gives them a competitive advantage because their customers become extremely loyal and they expect to be treated as ‘partners’ vs. customers. They know the companies they are engaged with respect them, listen to them, and work tirelessly to make the customer experience job #1.
Hopefully, based on my description of Value, Trust and Customer Truths, I’ve set us up to understand how putting these attributes at the center of everything we do allows us and our clients to win with their big C customers. Part 2 of this blog series will focus on the guiding principles that an organization must adopt to know what type of processes, platforms and organizations/people they need to define, develop and deploy to be successful. I’ll also tie the Intraway Core Values of think incredible, strive to find a better way, wow through excellence and commitment and become the trusted provider into the discussion.
Stay tuned for Part 2, coming Q2, ’17.