At the heart of the Lean business model, is an exercise to define a Value Proposition statement for the business, including identifying the top benefits that we provide customers. It’s then used as a true north compass in developing the product and as a core part of our promotional messaging.
But, how do we know if our Customers are realizing these benefits? Do our Customers know they are achieving these benefits? And more importantly – do our Customers agree that these are the key benefits they want from our offering?
To answer these questions we need to make the Value Proposition more than just a marketing statement. We need to make it a living breathing part of the business.
I would like to suggest that a good way to do this is to identify ways to demonstrate the value to the customer in a quantifiable way. And then to build into the product or engagement processes some way of echoing this back to the customer. I realize that for some products or services, especially consumer products, there may be more qualitative benefits, so it might not be as easy to demonstrate. What I am challenging you to do is continue the exercise of determining the top benefits with a consideration of identifying how the Customer sees they are achieving them.
A simple example of a company doing this can be found on the invoice/receipts of discount retailers. More and more often these days, some key part of the document contains a highlighted total of the amount of money saved in the shopping transaction. These companies are bringing to the attention of the customer how they realize the benefit of the lower prices they offer.
A less obvious example is found on social networks when they provide to users the basic statistics around sharing. If the benefit of tweeting is to be heard, then having echoed back that people favorite the tweet allows the user to see that they are heard. Twitter also sends you weekly messages providing fuller stats on your most popular tweets. Though you as a consumer are probably considering this is feedback on the effectiveness of your own social activities, it is a subtle way of Twitter telling us the effectiveness of being social on their platform.
One service example that doesn’t do as good a job of this is some of the food tracking apps. They do usually display your current weight loss. And some display a report of trends in how many days you have been logging food intake. What would be a better demonstration would be if it displayed information that drew a co-relation between the two – for example, that you logged on and recorded food intake for the last five days and lost 1 lb. That would better re-inforce the benefit of using the product to record food intake!
The point is to not just echo reports on usage, but to echo back the results of usage.
In some ways this is also what business discussions on ROI are about. Though in a similar fashion, this has often been more about producing marketing white papers aimed at convincing customers that they will achieve ROI, than in demonstrating after purchase that they are actually achieving it.
What is often behind businesses not quantifying the benefit is a fear of the results may actually not measure up to expectations. However, tracking the information, even if only internally, can be really helpful to service or customer success teams that then can be mobilized to help the customer. More than if there was no data at all. If your aim is to make sure the customer gets the most that they can from the product, then the more information you have to help them towards that the better.
It’s also important to get feedback from customers as to whether the information is useful to them. By sampling customers, you may find that the benefits that you thought were important were not really important at all. Going back to the food tracking app – there may be feedback that the customer wasn’t really interested in weight loss as much as nutrition intake. This customer might be more interested in seeing charts showing thresholds for fat, salt and nutrients.
The point is to start the conversation. Provide information to your users, and then listen to whether it’s useful and achieves your goal of demonstrating value.