I was on my way to a client meeting the other day and one of Optimal’s client service executives said to me, “I know this client needs X technology to function at their best but I’m afraid to recommend it because I know they don’t have the money.” I thought about this for a bit…and went into the client meeting. You know what the client told me? “Please don’t be afraid to continue recommending things to us just because the economy is bad.” After I had checked my shirt for a wire (just kidding), I thought about what she said…and completely agreed. After all, clients are with us because of the value we provide. Our differentiating factor is our proactive approach to technology management. It isn’t our job to decide what clients can or cannot afford; it is our job to continue to recommend the technology that will best serve their organization and make their lives easier. If we continue to bring the best service, our clients will stay with us.
I think this concept can be extrapolated to other industries. We need to be comfortable leading through service and not being led by the economy. Your customers will tell you if something will blow their budget, but at least you feel satisfied that you’ve offered them value by bringing the best solution or product to the table for consideration. After all, that is probably why they chose you in the first place.
So what should you be doing in this economy? Don’t follow the mid-range chain restaurants like Applebee’s, T.G.I. Friday’s, etc., by dramatically dropping prices. Why? Because by doing this you are undercutting your organization’s value. And when you undercut your own vale, you undercut your organization’s value in your customer’s eyes. Plus, what is going to happen to these discount menus when the economy rebounds? If they disappear, customers will see this as a slap in the face and you are worse off than when you started. Your best bet is to retool your service delivery plan. Focus on the factors that differentiate you from your competitors and the added value you provide to consumers. Then, deliver this service and provide this value like crazy.
I want to hear from you! Respond to one, all or none of the questions below. I just want to hear your thoughts!
- Do you agree with me? Do you think that predicting what your clients can and cannot spend is overstepping your bounds?
- Do you disagree? Do you think that you should curtail recommendations because the large investments could scare clients away in this economy?
- How do you define value? Cost? Service? Results?
- Is there a business that has done a great job of communicating its value for the price (without dramatically decreasing its prices) in this economy? A company that has done this poorly—and just gone straight for the dramatic price reduction model— to stay afloat?