Article - Leveraging Value-Connection With Your Customers

Project Description

TTM associates Article

 

What is the Value Connection and why is it Important?

The ability to connect with customers is of paramount importance to organisations and is often what differentiates great organisations and brands from plain, mediocre ones.

Successfully connecting with your customers is critical because when you do, customer behaviour changes drastically in powerfully beneficial ways. The customer will be more likely to recommend your product or service; they will be less price sensitive and also less likely to shop around

 

What is the Value Connection?

It is the connection between buyer and seller, based upon the crucial concept of value – something which we all perceive differently.


What does this mean?

It means, as an organisation, you are able to select the right value for each customer at the right time, and deliver it consistently across all customer-interfacing units, with an important degree of personalisation, care and attention.

 

What is Value?

Introducing the Value Map

We need to connect with our customers and create the best possible relationship. But how important is ‘value’?

“Value” is the monetary worth of something.

Moreover, to justify the definition of ‘worth’, consumers derive benefits from their purchase and these benefits make the cost acceptable, often encapsulated by the product or service’s value proposition.

Value is a combination of tangible and intangible elements.
Why do you want to buy the latest model of a car? Is it for the quantitative factors, such as measurable fuel efficiency or passenger capacity or is it for the qualitative factors such as the elegance or quality associated with the car through its brand and the self- actualisation achieved through ownership? Or a mixture of both?

The value map helps us understand the value of our organisation’s offerings in terms of two factors – the benefits as perceived by the consumer and the cost of ownership. Market leaders, naturally occupy the region of such value maps which depict the most benefits for the lowest cost.

 

The buyer-seller relationship holds a significant dynamic as it transforms according to the actual action. It can either be an emotionless, functional purchase of something commonplace and insignificant, or an involved, long-term process based upon trust, interpersonal investment, research of alternatives, prolonged decision making, deep consideration at every stage and the development of a necessary relationship with the seller.

Implicit in this relationship is a connection between buyer and seller.

The connection is comprised of what the customer sees, feels and hears and is the basis of customer loyalty. It is a procedure that is developed not only by your organisation’s brand, but also by the behaviours of your organisation’s customer-interfacing functions which may take the form of a one-time transaction or an ongoing provision of service.

The creation and maintenance of this connection requires passion and a service-oriented mindset and is applicable no matter how or where you serve your customers, for example in a traditional retail environment, an ‘inbound’ customer service call centre or an ‘outbound’ sales centre.


  The Evolution of Paradigm

It all begins with the most basic of approaches to the buyer-seller relationship – the transactional approach. This focuses on basic promotion and short-term solutions with little attention being paid to customer needs – these are eclipsed by the preoccupation with monetary exchange.

Next, is the technology approach which focuses solely on innovation and the technological aspects of the product or service, leaving little attention paid to customer needs.

As the paradigm evolves from the previous two, quantitative approaches, we arrive at the value based approach. This approach to understanding the buyer-seller relationship is based upon understanding and working with the benefits as perceived by the customer – a ‘next step’ beyond the mere features or price of the offering.

Finally, by better understanding the customer’s experience and further evolving the qualitative aspects of our relationship with the customer, we develop the connection approach which is concerned entirely with the customer and what they feel during their experience with our organisation, focusing on providing a differentiated, value-added experience which touches a deeper, emotional cord and thereby serves to bond the customer with the organisation in a meaningful, commercially beneficial way.

This paradigm is widely applicable to customer relationships in business-to-consumer environments, in business-to-business environments and throughout our marketing efforts.

This paradigm is widely applicable to customer relationships in business-to-consumer environments, in business-to-business environments and throughout our marketing efforts.

The creation of a value connection and the generation of real ‘customer intimacy’ requires collective effort throughout the organisation.

It is true that employees at delegate level – those who play the role of direct customer interface – are critical in achieving such a connection. So, we should pay attention to the environment and the limitations inherent to these environments, including traditional face-to-face retail environments (shops) and call centres.

Skills, such as emotional awareness and assertiveness are useful when dealing optimally with customer complaints but so are technical solutions to the customer-interface including skills, such as merchandising, trade marketing and category management.
At the same time, the front line depends on the support and leadership from management – proper delegation and empowerment plus solid guidance and advice to help build relationships with customers.

Lastly, the   organisational   vision   and   customer-orientation   cannot   be   translated   into well-organised   responsive departments and processes without top-tier direction and management.  A value connection must cascade down from the top in order to ensure that the organisation is aligned and working coherently towards the aim.

Business-to-business relationships are typically very different from business-to-consumer relationships – they are often more involved, closer and span across a much longer period of time – months or years rather than minutes or days.

However, the premise is the same – the entire organisation needs to be primed from the top-down, to allow the coherent development of a genuinely useful value connection.

This time however, the sales process takes a different format with sales teams focusing upon entities at the scale of a company or group and requiring often more persuasive and commercially intelligent skill sets plus technical sales capabilities, such as territory planning and productive key account management. It can be argued that business-to-business relationships naturally comprise a greater element of value connection than many, simpler business-to-consumer relationships typically do.

However, with increasingly automated supply chains following strict schedules and SLA’s it is important to note that these apparently deeper, longer term relationships are becoming modular and de-humanised and as such are losing the very essence which once elevated their customer- connections over and above simpler business-to-consumer relationships.

Generating Value Connection Through Marketing
Regardless of environment, there is one constant which applies to all when selling is involved – marketing. It affects and supports what every organisation does from front line promotions and branding to the manner of staff and the internal coherence of the organisation which becomes evident to customers during their interactions with staff.

Understanding the principles of value connection and how to build customer intimacy should be a key part of every marketer’s raison d’etre and as such, marketing people need to understand the principles of marketing including operational, value-based marketing and strategic marketing, plus how to build customer insight and build customer-centred brands. Technical aspects are important to provide an understanding of core life cycle management, upon which to then execute successful initiatives such as customer-centred public relations and digital marketing exercises.

Lastly, these core marketing skills can be further developed by improving their foundations – skills, such as business acumen, political intelligence and innovation. All of which build a bigger, more coherent picture in the minds of our people, thus empowering them to more effectively build genuine, lasting value connection with customers.

Value connection requires targeting the right audience in the correct markets where the best chance of delivering genuine value exists. We need to work hard in order to build strong, lasting connections which will build a strong relationship with our customers in a mutually beneficial, win-win situation that is resilient against erosion by time, competition or other factors, such as price and technical features.

Such a feat can only be achieved by shaping our organisation from the top-down, to be able to generate this value and form these connections – and all of this is made possible by our people exhibiting the right skills through their shared behaviours in a way that creates a lasting impact upon customers.

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Read more about Value Connect, customer intimacy and how to achieve commercial excellence. You are also welcome to view and download our full online brochure for your reference.