Customer Development or Customer Happiness?

Customer Development or Customer Happiness?

Which describes the process better when delivering value of/for a new product or service?

If possible you should always, “under promise and over deliver.”  This is a way of delivering “happiness” to anyone that needs your expertise, service or product.  In today’s society, we’ve become accustomed to “now”, we (as the consumer) have become impatient, but we also know “good things come to those who wait.”

So, how do you bridge that gap?

You have to have constant communication.  A channel for always knowing the status can help create transparency and better working conditions and be a great customer feedback and development tool.

For example, today, we delivered the first rev of a mobile app to a local merchant.  While we were able to over deliver on one of the “features” (a loyalty app) another problem (or opportunity) became apparent.  We realized very quickly this was not going to be so easy to fix.

The other ‘customer’ problem or pain/gain, was an integration into their POS system.  We explained it as, “currently, there must be human intervention at this step” until we are able to integrate with their merchant service partner, Heartland.  This could be an intensive integration, but the payoff could also be great for them and us (by delivering this experience to many similar merchants.)

Recently, I heard a quote by Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.”  That seems like what we have here, even though this merchant wants an integration into their POS system, they’re really trying to relieve the ‘human intervention’ or ‘job’ just described.  So, how can we get the information from the device without disrupting their normal work routine or how can we get the information into their POS seamlessly, so that they don’t have to do it manually?

That’s the million dollar question.

Without a lot of effort, I can imagine talking with Heartland and with an Indiana company that created the kiosks called ‘ziosks’ that does this already at your neighborhood Chilis and probably have a solution in hand.  This will probably take months of effort, but it will be a great opportunity if done right.

So, is this a pivot to a new problem/fix scenario or is it just another value-added service or feature that should be prioritized and put on a list in a que?  At this point, I’m just thinking out loud.

Another problem, I foresee is other competitors or threats, in that, this marketplace is shark infested waters.  Every loyalty program vendor is trying to deliver the ‘ultimate’ eye candy.  The local merchant is being barraged by new, fancy services that can help increase their presence on the internet, give their customers VIP service, deliver a market of local influencers who will then promote their message of products and services to local consumers.  Each have a value proposition, but they are all unproven, many still have ‘patent pending’ for their current ‘app for that.’  But their business model is also still unproven, they have no reviews, so who knows if they can actually deliver on their promise, yet.  It’s like you’re competing with a ghost, many ghosts with many shiny objects and they are all very noisy ghost at that!

How do you compete with the ghost of “future value propositions” keeping your customer happy in the process?

I think if you can’t beat them, you can join them.  If your customer is persuaded by the ‘eye-candy’ of what’s new and hot you must learn of your competition, know what they’re providing and know how much they’re charging for this new service.  If you can deliver something similar of value, you should do it.  If the service is unbelievably awesome and you can’t replicate through other pathways, you may find a way to join them.

Maybe you can partner with them?

At this point, we’re still trying to build a ‘shiny object’ called ‘whats4.me’ that will catch the eyes of local merchants and be something that creates value for them and locals for years to come.  I think the value and promise of ‘local knowledge’ is a great place to start.  Locals need to know what’s going on, just as any merchant needs to know who is looking for their service.  Google, Yelp and Foursquare are each doing a great job of connecting ‘people with place.’  I still feel they’re missing the larger value proposition of creating and managing the real relationships needed to secure the ‘relationship’ that develops over time with the local merchants.

The ‘relationship’ is more than just a primary key match in a local vendors database.  It is a real live human that helps ‘manage’ the process, give (great) advice, take risk on behalf of the vendor (do the job.)  If you deliver this, your drilling the hole the customer wants and not just a drill bit.

We, at proAM Labs, think it’s better to be a tool user and maker then just another tool!

Oh, and GO, ‘Hoo-Hoo-Hoo-Hoosiers! playing the Northwestern Wildcats today at 1:00 today, I’m glad I’m no longer dealing with Evanston’s January weather!

Frequently used words
better customer deliver delivering ghost great integration know local merchant new opportunity POS problem process service services tool value

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