If The Market Calls You A Donkey… Buy a Saddle

This article, “If The Market Calls You A Donkey… Buy a Saddle,” for technology executives could  equally be entitled, “Expanding Customer Value Through Services.”

Thinking beyond simply how your technology works and what your technology does has many implications for technology suppliers. Look, for example, at the Siri experience for consumers with the iPhone. Blackberry and iPhone customers have had voice activation technology for years, but it was never positioned as a Personal Assistant (with an attitude, no less).

Is this a relevant example in the B2B realm? Trust me, there are dozens of technology suppliers offering product parity in your customers’ mind. Services are a great way to leverage your technology platform to constantly enhance the ownership experience for your customers.

Services come in many varieties; implementation, training and support are the obvious ones, but what else can you deliver to your customers that will make them more loyal to you? For example, how can you leverage network connectivity or customer database to improve your customers’ experience?

Gaining insights about your customer needs from customer interviews is a great way to identify and deliver a total experience that connects with both your economic buyer and end user in a way that greatly enhances your value to them.

I like to ask two kinds of questions to customer directly, 1) “How are we doing, so far?” and “What could we do to make our technology more valuable to you? You would be surprised at how many times your customers will flat out just tell you the “the next big thing” for your product. You will also be surprised at how often the insight can result in a service.

Do you have offer software that performs analysis? Train your economic buyer’s end users to be better analysts. Or, what would your customers pay to perform the analysis for them?

When delivering services, you do not have to do all the work.

Recently, I heard of a company that has three PhDs in India on contract to run models overnight for their USA customers with only had an occasional need for a certain leasing analytical model used in the real estate industry. The software company  partnered with a Business Process Outsourcing firm to offer these services to clients with occasional needs. Work was completed faster and at a fraction of the cost of a full time analyst. This in turn, helped to maintain premium pricing and lead to a much richer relationship with the business (end user).

When lease volume rises and additional seats, or licenses are required because another analyst is being hired, do you think the buyer would change lease analysis models to save a few bucks?

Financial services are another way to add value. Do your customers want to issue purchase orders and pay on terms? Is it better for the customer experience to pay by credit card? Do customers wish to pay through an app store? Your product offering and end users will determine the correct answer to these questions. The key point is that even offering payment options is a service because your are making the business relationship more convenient.

Have you ever been to a five star (*****) hotel?  Like these hotels, be on the lookout for other unconventional ways to make your customer happy. What do you need to do to make your company a “Five-Star” technology provider? Such attention to creating value for your customers through services will help your business  expand.

“If The Market Calls You A Donkey… Buy a Saddle.”

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