As a customer, how do I know what I want... if I don't know what's possible? It's as though I'm blindfolded.
I was on a flight recently. We'd just been advised to turn off all electronic devices so I had to close my Kindle and was forced to choose between quiet contemplation and reading the airline's Sky Mall catalogue one more time. Perhaps because I was 3 hours into a less than customer-focused flight experience, the idea of enriching customer experience came to mind. And I went with it.
The idea of "adding value" popped into my head. At first glance, adding value certainly sounds like a good thing-not so much the "adding" part as the "value" part of the concept. I subscribe to the theory that reducing customer effort-making it quick and easy for me to do business with you-builds loyalty.
So it seems to me that adding time to an interaction isn't helpful unless I see some benefit to what I'm getting. There needs to be some clearly perceived value. I understand that there's something in it for YOU... you're selling me something extra or making sure I don't have to call you back. But as a customer "added value" is only good if there's something in it for ME. One size does not fit all.
At Impact, for example, our customer service, sales, field service and technical support training programs all include a model for adding value. For us it's not about tacking something on. It's about taking the blindfold off and connecting an offer, an idea, a resource, or tidbit of information to a specific customer's problems, needs or interests. The goal is to reduce customer effort.
Using technology, you don't even have to be present to provide added value to your customers.
I experienced this kind of added value right after Oprah announced her newest book club selection. I wanted to know what the book was about so I went to Amazon for a description. In addition to the book description (hmm, could this be added value?) I found a very interesting feature-Readers' Forum. In this forum, readers post questions to other readers. One caught my eye. In it, a woman listed books she'd read and liked and asked for suggestions of other books she'd like. Wow! I'd read and liked those books too so I read on. There were lots of interesting suggestions and faster than I can say,"1 click add to cart" two books were on whispernet on their way to my Kindle. Was that added value? For me, yes, it was. Did Amazon benefit as well? Of course it did.
Clearly I am the center of Amazon's universe. I know this because of the way they treat me. They know I like to read, they know what I like to read, and they know I'm a busy person so they proactively make suggestions based on my past purchases and interests. Purchasing a book is super easy and delivery to my Kindle provides a happy dose of instant gratification. It definitely nets out to low customer effort and high customer satisfaction.
So, the question is, what can you do to add that kind of value to your customer interactions? Discuss.