You have heard the word value beyond contract atleast a few times if you are a business professional or entrepreneur. And we all know, with increasing competition, you need to do much more than delivering a standard set of services or selling a basic product. In this article we will learn the 5 most effective ways to add value beyond contract to customer business.
Typically value beyond contract applies to B2B scenarios and the service sector. However, some of these can be extended to B2C as well.
That said, let us learn how to achieve it.
1. Encourage the culture of innovation
Adding value beyond contract to your customer’s business requires your organization to have an appetite for innovation. This helps you to come up with new ideas and thoughts on how to help your customers enhance their business outcomes.
But innovation can’t just be top down. Isn’t it? Business leaders suggesting innovative ideas, and employees implementing it is not enough.
Innovation has to be bottom up as well. Employees should be encouraged to think and act differently. They should proactively suggest improvements in service quality & speed, processes & tasks, and technology.
To encourage active participation, you can recognize the best ideas and contributions from your team members, once or twice an year.
2. Plan for the extra time and effort
When you attempt to deliver services or improvements beyond what you have committed to, you need to account for the extra time and effort required. It should not be done in a way that hits your bottom line.
So plan for it and include the extra cost you might incur when you submit the quote to the customer during the proposal stage.
Let me explain this using an example.
Assume, to deliver a service for a period of 2 years, the effort required is 1300 person days. And you estimate the additional effort required for innovative activities to be 200 person days. So when you calculate the total cost of the project, account for a total of 1500 person days of effort.
3. Consistently explore opportunities of improvement
This might sound very obvious. But many businesses fail/ignore to do this. Whether you are a product company or a service provider, you need to continuously look for opportunities of improvement in your product/service.
There are a few ways in which you can accomplish this. One of them is definitely point #1 mentioned in this article – encouraging innovation. Following are a few more things you could do to identify such opportunities:
- Brainstorming sessions: Haven’t you heard the saying whole is greater than the sum of parts? So don’t work on your ideas in silos. Get your people into one room and let them discuss and brainstorm to come up with executable ideas that can add value to your customer’s business.
- Borrow best practices and ideas from other teams in your company: See how the best performing teams or divisions in your company do things right. Take ideas from them that suit your area of work.
- Take help from your internal consultants: Leverage resources external to your team in the company, who are experts in your customer’s business domain. They will be capable of analyzing the business context and suggest necessary improvements.
4. Make it a habit to take regular customer feedback
There is nothing better than asking the customers themselves for suggestions to add value beyond contract. Majority of the customers are eager and happy to see service providers or sellers taking feedback from them. So use various techniques such as surveys, focus groups, interviews etc. to gauge customer feedback.
But make sure that you don’t approach customers empty handed. Don’t just knock at their doors and say ‘hey, can I get your feedback?’.
Instead do a relevant analysis of your own on the business environment. For example, if you are an IT service provider, you can approach your customer for feedback with the following:
- Identifying processes and tasks that need improvement
- An overall approach that outlines how to implement them
- Details of probable support required from the customer
Here, the idea is to let the customer know that you are serious about this, and not asking for feedback just for the sake of doing it.
5. Extend organizational support systems to customers
This is something you can do without any additional investment. You have a lot of organizational level facilities such as training, innovation, consulting, process improvement, recruitment, resource management etc. You can offer to extend some of these services to your customers depending on what they need.
In most of the cases, the above facilities are not provided as a part of standard set of services. However, some service providers offer them in an attempt to differentiate themselves.
One more way of extending your services to your customers is by inviting them to attend a seminar, webinar or event that you are conducting. That will act as a platform for knowledge sharing as well as customer engagement.
Those are my 5 top methods to add value to your customers’ business. Anything you do to achieve it, will fall under any of the 5 broad categories. Implement these in your organization to differentiate yourself in the ocean of competitors.
Have you already implemented any of these in your business? Let me know in the comments section. Also feel free your thoughts and views.