Our value is much like DNA; it is the very core of our existence. In business, we seek to communicate our value to customers so they’ll buy from us. Personally, we share our value with friends and family to build connections and develop stronger relationships. In both of these instances, we also seek value in return. However, if there is no exchange of value, then the relationship never develops and/or dies. Bottom line, we’re a quid pro quo society and time and money is just too short to be wasted on relationships and activities if there is no perceived value.
“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” Albert Einstein
Such is often the problem for businesses and organizations seeking to develop their brand identity, launch new products or promote employee engagement and drive customer retention. They make assumptions about their value which can be deadly. As the great actor, director and philanthropist Alan Alda once said, “Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in while, or the light won’t come in.”
So why don’t we just simply ask our customers about our value. I mean after all, if we agree that our value is our DNA and critical to sustainable success, this should be automatic right? In her article, “Four reasons why companies are afraid of customer feedback,” Leadership Strategist, Author and People Developer Heather R. Younger, J.D., CCXP defines four roadblocks:
- Companies really don’t want to know.
- They lack clear direction and process.
- They are short on human capital.
- Their customer business intelligence is in short supply.
Regardless of the reason, any path to success cannot be paved without an authentic understanding of your value to your customer. It’s like driving blind down the road with your foot on the accelerator. You may find an open road for a while, but eventually you’re going to either hit a deer, swerve into oncoming traffic or jump a cliff. All of which spell disaster.
Here are three tips to get the momentum started and begin a fruitful journey to discovering your authentic value to your customer.
- Start a conversation with your customers – A good customer wants you to succeed because they will succeed and they will value the fact that you care enough to ask for feedback. Choose a reasonable sample size reflective of your customer base and simply ask them what they perceive your value to be and the impact of your product and/or services.
- Don’t rely just on quantitative research. Surveys and “scores” paint a nice graphic but what’s the story behind the number? This business intelligence is the lifeblood to really understanding your value.
- Engage employees in the conversation. Ask them about the value of the company, products and services you offer for which they sell, market, manage and deliver. If you keep all the intel at the top, you’re cutting off the blood supply to success.
The journey of “value” can feel like therapy because it challenges the very nature of who we are and requires us to hold up a mirror very close and look honestly into our reflection. That said, once you have a real and honest picture of your value to your customer, you can shed the rate-limiting weight of the unknown and focus on what matters to accelerate growth.
Al is the founder of Value Mapping™ and has been a passionate brand enthusiast and consultant for over two decades. Everything Al writes is designed to help others reach their potential and become wildly happy. Contact him directly via firstname.lastname@example.org or check out www.valuemapping.com.