by Kenneth Rudich
Trapped value may be lurking within your value proposition, just waiting to be sprung.
Release it, and it will enhance your offering. Neglect it, and it will impair your ability to deliver a full value customer experience.
what is trapped value?
Simply put, trapped value is the untapped opportunity for making the perceived benefits, or the costs, or both, match or exceed customer expectations. Even if you’ve managed to match the expectations, you may be overlooking a chance to exceed them — and consequently produce a sense of delight.
Trapped value ordinarily revolves around matters like efficiency, accessibility, and/or customer empowerment. Improvements in any one or combination of them can yield an appreciable increase in value.
trapped value and the value chain for marketing
The potential for trapped value underscores the rationale for advocating the use of a value chain approach.
The value chain is a cross-functional, process-oriented analytical tool. It looks at the value creating potential of an organization’s activities from an end-to-end perspective, as opposed to only from within each functional area.
End-to-end factors in the series of hand-offs that typically occur between functionally different responsibilities, from the moment a customer demands something to the moment it is delivered (and even thereafter for after-the-sale support services). In this sense, it transcends departmental boundaries.
For instance, selling a product is one function and producing it is another. It’s conceivable for each separate function to be individually optimized, yet the interface between them could be compromised by a detrimental process flaw.
marketing value creating scenario #1
Here’s an example based on a true story. What if the sales people only worry about getting the product sold (because that’s what they’re rewarded for), and not so much about accurately procuring customer preferences for how it should be configured or customized?
In this situation, the production function is left to put together a product as best as it knows how, but it will be doing so at the risk of producing a lesser outcome than might otherwise be achieved if it knew exactly what the customer wanted.
Some customers may feel okay with the end result, others may be resigned to accept it for what it is, still others unhappy but not complain, and then some will outright complain. In other words, the company has a value proposition that is plagued by inconsistency. Not only that, but it may be losing an opportunity to deliver the kind of value that delights the customer every time.
marketing value creating scenario #2
But what if the manufacturing department created an order processing system, and the sales force followed it because they were also rewarded for accurately capturing the customers’ specifications? Now there’s a process in place for making sure the customer receives exactly what is wanted.
On top of that, what if distribution periodically sought to get the product to higher valued customers ahead of the originally promised delivery date, perhaps by upgrading it to overnight express? Or by collaborating with sales and manufacturing to pre-arrange a faster than expected delivery response? Would that not add further value fulfillment to the customer experience?
efficiency, accessibility, and customer empowerment
Though this may seem like a simple fix as presented here, it can be surprising how often and for how long bad situations go unfixed in the real world. Unless an organization proactively concentrates on business process improvement, flawed or inefficient processes can remain in place for quite a while. It often takes a big problem or crisis to force the issue.
But for organizations that do actively investigate the potential for improving their business process designs, the rewards can be considerable.
Consider the above example after it’s been corrected. You have an empowered customer, the processes between placing the order and delivering it have been endowed with the attribute of optimal efficiency, and the customers’ accessibility for getting exactly what they want has been significantly increased.