The phrase “value add” is over-used in business today. You’ll read it on company websites, hear it used in meetings and even find whole sections dedicated to it in tender documents and pitch presentations.
But what you might consider a “value add”, is often something your client expects as a natural part of your service.
…and how can you use it to set your business apart from your competitors?
While good service is expected, bad service is not. Before you even think about value-adding, it’s important to make sure your current level of service is at least as good as your competitors. Otherwise, no amount of ‘value-adding’ will keep your clients from shopping around.
Once you’ve established good customer service procedures, you can then set about value-adding to your service. For example, by training your staff to recognise and pay special attention to core customers. They can minimise the amount of time your client spends on hold, offer to assist them when you are not available and generally treat them as valued clients in any way possible.
….rather than one-off customers
If you can establish a relationship with them that goes beyond the exchange of goods or services, then you will become their preferred supplier and retain their business, despite your competitors’ best efforts to entice them away from you.
In order to add value, you need to know your clients intimately; what their business goals are, what their needs are and what their strengths and weaknesses are. By identifying these things, you will also identify the areas where you can offer added value to them.
It’s obvious that going an extra mile for your core clients can really help cement your relationship with them. Taking extra care not to get their orders wrong and, if you do, being quick to rectify the problem at your own expense will earn you Brownie points. So will personally dropping off urgently needed supplies, or giving them your mobile or home number so they don’t have to play phone tag to find you when they need you. Little things like this will make them feel that they are valued clients.
Another form of added value is knowledge. Your client may, from time to time, have a problem requiring specialist knowledge that you or someone in your business could provide. Helping out in unexpected ways outside of your normal business dealings will be greatly appreciated by your client. Particularly if it helps them become more profitable, or save time. Even if you can’t provide the expertise, referring them to someone you know who can will also be appreciated and remembered.
As well as expertise, there may be occasions when core clients have need of equipment they don’t possess or can’t afford to purchase. This could include a piece of machinery, a vehicle, or even the use of your meeting room facilities; all things that cost you nothing to loan, but have great value to them. Again, such generosity will be appreciated and remembered.
You can also add value by doing business with your clients; choosing to use their products or services whenever possible and appropriate. Getting a small discount from one of their competitors is nothing, compared to the good will that you will accrue by purchasing from them. Another way to add value is to bring them more business by spotting potential leads and referring potential customers to them as you come across them in the course of doing business.
The best salespeople always know the value of their regular clients, and that relating to them on a personal level is the best way to retain their business and their loyalty. Little things such as a card on their birthday, an invitation to an industry event, even the odd chat on Twitter or Facebook are all the actions of a friend rather than a business acquaintance.
Word of mouth is a powerful thing and having a loyal client is the way to ensure your business is viewed in the best possible light. Clients will tell their friends and business acquaintances, who will tell theirs and new business will come your way because of it.
By focusing on their needs and providing added value wherever you can, you are not only ensuring their continued growth and profitability, but the future success of your own business as well.
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