We all have had to deal with them many times in our life: organizations that deliver sub-par products or services. They were either companies you conducted businesses with or internal departments and groups in your company you needed something from. Regardless, they were devoid of enthusiasm with little interest in engaging you as a customer. The product or service missed the mark and the organization’s overall delivered value was low. This ultimately led you to discontinue doing business with them or forced you into continuing business with them only because you had too. In both cases you most likely let others know your perceptions and feelings.
All organizations deliver value that lies on a continuum from low to high. The best organizations deliver high value consistently because they market and sell in addition to delivering their value. The act of them marketing and selling their value actually improves the value they deliver. Here’s how:
- Organizations that market their value intimately know the value they deliver and position it to differentiate themselves from other similar organizations. They actively communicate that value to their existing customers and prospective ones too. This is not to be boastful but to encourage others to take full advantage of it.
Organizations that sell their value cherish their customers and realize customers have a choice and need to be sold over and over again. They engage their customers and strengthen the relationship with them, seeking a long-term partnership.
Conversely organizations that do not market and sell their value handicap their organization and limit the amount of value they provide their customers. They have a lesser understanding of their value and therefore put little attention into refining it. They appear hidden to other organizations and are often perceived as irrelevant. Customers are taken for granted and the needs of the organization’s staff are considered ahead of the customers. These organizations view each interaction with a customer as a transaction they have to endure.
For external businesses that deliver low value, the free market tends to correct the situation by running them out of business. However, Internal organizations are not subjected to the free market and stay around because they are needed, but their management is a prime target for change when discontent from others flairs to unacceptable levels.
So what can you do if you find yourself managing an organization that delivers marginal perceived value? Begin to market and sell your value. Here are a few things that will get you headed in the right direction.
- Work with key people in your organization to develop a detailed description of the value your organization provides.
Identify your customers and ask them to articulate the product or service they desire from you and at what level of quality. Then ask them what the cost is of working with you. It could be money as there may be internal funds that are exchanged or it could be emotional energy expended in the process of conducting business. Ask them if they are getting the value they expect.
The above two items need to match. If they don’t then your organization needs to change the value they deliver. This should be a continuous process for producing greater value.
Communicate the value back to your customers and prospective customers too. Encourage them to take advantage of your organization.
Communicate to your organization that customers come first and that everyone’s job security depends on the organizations ability to delight the customer when they encounter them.
Establish liaisons within your organization and have them contact, via phone or in person, a customer and learn about their job needs and personal lives. The goal here is to establish and build a relationship with the customer.
Reach out to customers that have not used your products or services in a while and ask them if they are in need of them.
These things will make many people uncomfortable as it will force them to get outside of themselves and view things from someone else’s perspective. It will strike fear in them because they will see just how vulnerable they are in delivering marginal or low value. Lastly, it will cause them to change and that is hard for everyone.
For organizational leaders, this transformation is going to take some time. Reputations change slowly and require many interactions to reverse people’s views. You need to keep the pressure on your organization and lead by example at every level and be patient with your customers because they didn’t form their perspectives overnight. Good luck!
Ben Snyder is the CEO of Systemation, (www.systemation.com), a project management, business analysis, and agile development training and consulting company that has been training professionals since 1959. Systemation is a results-driven training and consulting company that maximizes the project-related performance of individuals and organizations. Known for instilling highly practical, immediately usable processes and techniques, Systemation has proven to be an innovative agent of business transformation for many government entities and Fortune 2000 companies, including Verizon Wireless, Barclays Bank, Mattel, The Travelers Companies, Bridgestone, Amgen, Wellpoint and Whirlpool.