14 January 2007

Back to the benefits

We have been thinking hard for the last few weeks about benefits - what is a buyer really getting after they have had the service delivered. That's a challenging question and how many business services firms ask themselves that kind of question:
  • what will this web site deliver to the client? Will it improve visitor retention? Will it improve customer service? Will it increase sales? Will it reduce churn?
  • what will this advertising campaign deliver to the client? Will it increase reach? Will it increase sales? Will it increase or decrease the cost of sale?
  • what will this PR campaign deliver to the client? Will it increase sales? Will it reduce churn?
  • what will this consultancy assignment deliver? Is this the best consultancy intervention for the client? Will the benefits be maintained?
  • What will this coaching support deliver? What will be the business benefits? How will those benefits be maintained after the coaching stops?
Unless business services firms can answer these kinds of questions then they shouldn't be surprised that clients are reluctant to dive straight to the dotted line to sign. The last of these bullets prompted a furious debate on eCademy when Max Blumberg pointed out that most of the "evidence" about the benefits of coaching were testimonials rather than quantified outputs and that testimonials are notoriously weak at quantifying outcomes. At the time, he challenged the coaches on eCademy to provide evidence of quantified benefits resulting from their coaching. Not only did many coaches find that a foreign concept - most never asked their clients how they had benefited from their support - they just knew intuitively that coaching was "good".

This comes back to testing again. If you don't test the outcomes of your interventions with clients you risk repeating mistakes of which you are unaware. Services have to evolve to become better value, to offer the same benefits but in less time. Services have to be bit like the Olympic motto - faster, higher, stronger. Testing needs to be an important part of your delivery, not just in 2007, but as long as you want to be in business.

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