Shakespeare’s “Timon of Athens” had a point. Too many providers forget that they need to offer their customers a continual flow of value throughout their relationship. Over focusing on the on-boarding process to the detriment of the broader offering is a mistake. The initial implementation assistance provided to get your customers up and running is soon forgotten. Providers need to deliver, and be seen to deliver, tangible ongoing benefits and improvements if they are to be valued.
Roller coasters make people sick…
…smooth out their journey and keep them nice and level!
It used to be relatively easy to have a limited programme of activities that could be revisited and reused with the cycle restarting with the arrival of every new CIO. But given that the average tenure of a CIO is increasing from the 3 or 4 year terms of the past to something closer to 6 years this means that providers will now need to have a workable and plausible engagement plan for at least 5 years (or for the projected lifespan of the solution that is being supported if this is shorter).
Top tips for smoothing the customer’s value journey:
- Keep your powder dry. Don’t offer them the full menu of options when they first sit down. It overwhelms and confuses. Reveal your smorgasbord of goodness over time.
- Regulate their consumption rights. Rather than giving them the ability to select 4 time boxed consulting gigs a year – Force the pace a little and say that they can have one a quarter (and that it’s a use it or lose it policy)
- Mandate pre-requisites. Rome (nor Athens) wasn’t built in a day. Some tasks will take longer than you can fit into the time box you have. Don’t dumb it down. Break it over two engagements (although ensure you have enough content, activity and value to justify the second bite of the cherry)
- Demonstrate value as you go. If you can’t show the benefits that they have derived from a time boxed engagement then stop offering it. Every draw down needs to offer some immediate return as well as some longer term benefits. Remember that they are investing their time too.
- Contextualize their choices. Have a different selection of stuff for them to pick from each year (or if not varying by year, vary it by discernible maturity level).
- Expand beyond the technical rank and file. Involve multiple constituencies so that everyone is aware of the value you are adding. If they’re not involved, they probably won’t know and they definitely won’t care.
- Keep it simple. Offer a handful of options for each quarter, year or customer maturity level and really do them well. No-one wants a selection of 20 half baked dishes.
In-N-Out Burger do it right…
…by focusing on the stuff that really matters and doing it brilliantly!
A regular flow of value will always be preferable to the occasional soaking.
By ensuring that your value-added offers continually build upon one another you can ensure that your customer value perception continues to build too.