A Philosophy for Creating Product and Service Value

Providing great benefit to customers comes directly from applying a well-designed value philosophy. What does it take to create outstanding products and services that are both profitable and capable of converting ordinary consumers into “raving fans”?

This article covers four critical ingredients that produce stellar products, services, and customer relationships. You can boost your product and service value to a level that truly “wows” customers by doing the following things:

1. Researching your audience’s needs.

Creating impeccable results begins with the approach you take toward researching what your customers or prospects want and need. Developing successful offerings then involves incorporating what you learn into solutions they want to buy. The way in which you derive your product and service requirements can greatly affect the success of your wares, and extends beyond the design phase into the entire customer experience.

Methods for researching what will contribute most to your audience’s success include interviews and needs assessments, examining the information in your customer database, and probing customer headaches using support calls and surveys.

2. Making your offerings safe, reliable, and easy to use.

Ensuring that a product or service will be friendly and intuitive to use involves several aspects. Two factors that strongly influence the success of your offerings are 1) how simple the features and interface are, and 2) how much support your offerings give customers for achieving real-life goals. Many product development teams make every effort to overload their products with fancy features in the hopes of increasing customer satisfaction. On the contrary, too many complicated features and functions can actually prevent customers from achieving success.

Before you release the next version of any product or service you already have, perform a difficulty analysis by asking:

— Does the system guide people in achieving their real-world goals?
— Have you prevented all unnecessary options and features from creeping in?
— Have you automated or kept to a bare minimum all tedious setup?
— Have you performed a “hassle hunt” to remove known customer annoyances?

Depending on the answers, you might need to add more guidance, simplify the design, or hide complexity more elegantly.

3. Testing and evaluating your offerings.

Do you have a way to tell whether your offerings achieve exactly what both you and your customers expect? Are your products and services confusion-free, even if they carry out complicated tasks? How well do they perform their intended actions? By using powerful testing and evaluation techniques, you can reveal the answers in a systematic way.

First of all, it’s important to use a specification to state what your product or service is meant to do, and have a way to compare your product or service against that specification to determine whether it actually 1) does what it’s supposed to do, 2) does it correctly, and 3) as advertised.

Then, a combination of requirements evaluation, usability testing, alpha testing, and beta testing can become your “secret sauce.” The earlier in the life cycle this process can begin – specifically, in the requirements and design stages, when the initial concepts are still on the drawing board – the more successful your offerings will be at satisfying customer needs and desires. An early starting point will let you build quality incrementally into your offerings, instead of trying to add it as an afterthought, the way your competitors might.

4. Focusing on consistency to cement your brand promise.

When consumers are pleased with what you offer, how do they show it? Usually, by becoming loyal, repeat customers. But what if they’re unhappy? The majority will quietly take their money elsewhere, and you’ll probably never hear the reason.

What’s the solution? Creating consistently compelling customer experiences that galvanize consumers, who then can’t stop telling their family and friends. The recipe for cooking up highly profitable customer interactions includes, but is not limited to, recognizing the importance of focusing on customer retention; over-delivering on promises, both explicit and implied; striving to prevent variation in product and service quality; and doing everything possible to ensure your customers’ downstream success.

In conclusion, using this four-part formula for increasing product and service value can transform your offerings from being lackluster, difficult, or even hazardous to use to “wowing” your audiences with superb experiences. By 1) researching audience needs; 2) making your offerings safe, reliable, and easy to use; 3) testing and evaluating your offerings; and 4) focusing on consistency to cement your brand promise, you will create countless ways to attract buyers who become raving fans!