On this blog, I talk a lot about providing value to customers. But what do I really mean by that? What is customer value?
If you ask 10 people in business how to provide value to customers, you’d likely get 10 different answers, so let me give you my definition:
Providing value to clients is what happens when you understand what they want, and you understand what you want, and then you create an equitable solution that satisfies both parties.
A lot of people will talk about customer service as “customer-centric”, but I believe that as a freelancer the best relationships are formed and sustained when all sides are getting something out of the relationship. In my experience, this is what it takes to truly drive customer value.
Customer value examples
Working as a self-employed web designer for over a decade, I have witnessed my own transition from low-level, functional provider, to respected partner in business for my clients. Let me walk you through a few customer value examples to demonstrate how I’ve strengthened relationships with my clients and improved the way I create value for them.
#1 Proactively suggest website improvements
A great way to create value for web design clients is to proactively examine their website for errors or make suggestions for improvement. It’s not hard to find ways in which most websites can be improved (this includes websites you’ve made — admit it) from disjointed content, missed SEO opportunities and poor adherence to accessibility compliance.
Adding value in this way is not just useful for landing new clients, it’s a very powerful way to tell your existing clients that you’re still with them.
Put yourself in their shoes: wouldn’t it be nice to know that your designer still has your back once the website is up and running? Even if you spot mistakes that you made during development, owning them in this way demonstrates a real professionalism that will strengthen your client relationships and add real value to their business.
By being proactive with your clients, you move from being a functional, outsourced service, to a high value partner.
#2 Make introductions to relevant people
This took me years to grasp: successful people in business facilitate connections.
When I started out as a freelance web developer, I was practically a bottom feeder, waiting for scraps of work to come down to me from agencies. I would bid low rates in the hope of undercutting the competition, and when I did win client work I would scurry away to get it done in isolation.
But I’ve learned that successful businesspeople create value for others by making appropriate introductions.
When you stop thinking like a web designer, and start behaving more like a connector, you see more work come your way and a greater appreciation from clients. This is how to provide value to customers.
#3 Run webinar training for your clients
A hard truth to accept for many web developers is that websites are just a small piece of the puzzle for most clients.
In fact, your customers aren’t paying for a website, they’re paying for a result of some kind.
For most clients, handing over a website alone is not enough to provide sufficient value. Certainly, it won’t offer lasting value. So what can you do to give constant value?
In my case, free training is the answer. I record videos, run webinars and host small events for local organisations to attend and learn about a specific topic. Most of my clients are charities, and so they want to know how to raise donations through their website, grow their supporter base and generally improve efficiencies through digital technology.
Once again, this is how to provide value to customers by simply teaching what you know. Your clients will be more effective, respect you more and come back to you with more paid work time and again. Win-win!
#4 Make product recommendations
Do you keep up to date with new web apps, books, courses or other products?
New ideas around productivity, personal development, business growth and marketing are emerging constantly. It can feel overwhelming keeping up with it at times, but chances are as a web developer you’re way more plugged in than your clients.
This creates a fantastic opportunity to add value to your customers by suggesting new tools or products they might have missed.
If there is a particular product or service that you personally use, or you see something that you think might help one of your clients, tell them about it. This demonstrates that you’re thinking about their needs and actively want to create value for them. They will appreciate the gesture, and if your suggestion actually helps them in some way, they won’t forget it.
#5 Hold regular check-ins
One of my top tips for adding value to clients is to hold monthly meetings with them to find out what’s going on, and help out where you can.
You can wrap this into a support service, where you effectively mentor your clients, or you could simply drop them an email once a month with some resources and the question “how’s it going?”
This illustrates a desire to take an active role in the success of their business, building your relationship with the client and potentially adding massive value to their business. Give it a go!
If you want to be successful, can you afford not to provide value to customers?
Let’s be honest here: if you’re just a web developer, acting as the vicarious hands of a client’s imagination, you are severely limiting yourself.
By actively embedding yourself in their business, you create value for customers as well as improve your rapport with them. They begin to see you as a teammate, someone on their side.
So if you want to run a successful web design business, striving to provide value at every opportunity is an absolute must.