Chances are that you’ve heard the word “value” thrown around once or twice (or thousands of times) in your corporate strategy discussions. In fact, you’ve likely heard the word used in a variety of contexts; there are corporate values, offering and company value propositions, time to value, value chains … the list goes on! So when we talk about customer value, it can get murky as to which type of value we’re talking about. Not only that, but the many ways we use “value” are primarily inwardly focused and too often display the value to the business versus the value for the customer. Forrester defines customer value as a customer’s perception of what they get versus what they give up in the pursuit of a goal.

Customer value is the core of an organization’s customer-obsessed growth engine. As we’ve observed over the past few years, buyer behavior is changing rapidly, and customers’ expectations continue to rise. These days, customers are not only looking for a product or service; they’re demanding a connection, benefit, or relationship that goes far beyond what they receive simply through the purchase of an offering. But most B2B organizations are still inwardly focused, seeing things from their product-only point of view and missing the mark on helping their customers realize value. Here are key questions that can help you start thinking through the lens of the customer.

Does Your Organization Understand Your Customers?

It’s impossible to ensure that customers realize value without knowing what they actually value at their core. Many companies still rely on outdated growth strategies that are focused on extracting value from customers. Becoming an expert on your customer’s wants, needs, and modi operandi is the first step to ensuring a successful customer-obsessed growth engine.

Does Your Customer Knowledge Extend Through The Entire Lifecycle?

The work doesn’t stop when customers make a purchase. As mentioned, customers are looking for more than just what the product or service offers; they are looking for deeper connections and relationships. And fundamentally, customers must get more than they give up in pursuit of their goals. The realization of value for a customer happens throughout every phase of the customer lifecycle. Organizations must empower themselves with insights on what customers need and care about throughout that lifecycle.

Do You Know Your Customers’ Value Network?

B2B customers are incredibly savvy. They have a wide network of organizations and people they rely on to support their decision-making and ensure that they succeed in their pursuit of a specific goal. They interact with all types of influencers such as internal colleagues, peers, partners, industry experts, and even your competitors. We call this the customer value network. Identifying your customer’s value network is vital for delivering the value they expect and for clarifying where you can play a direct and participating role.

Interested in continuing the discussion on customer value? Join me at Forrester’s B2B Summit North America from June 5–7 in Austin, Texas. In my keynote session, “Buyer Value Is The Core Of Your Customer-Obsessed Growth Engine,” I will explore why the changing business and competitive climate demands that B2B leaders think differently about customer value. There will be many more sessions during which you can dive deeper into buyer experience, customer experience, and learn better ways to focus on the needs, aspirations, and goals of your customers.