The Cycle of Value

What provides value to a customer? At a recent meeting of the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association (WWEMA), industry leaders gathered—as part of their annual program—to address this important question.

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By Tammy L. Bernier

What provides value to a customer? At a recent meeting of the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association (WWEMA), industry leaders gathered—as part of their annual program—to address this important question. The resulting conversation reinforced the high level of commitment to a quality outcome in customer-supplier relationships. These relationships are the foundation of our business, and those attending examined the question of what best establishes and supports them. As a conclusion, it was strongly recognized that a "virtuous cycle" of value assured benefit for all involved and is, in fact, the best avenue to providing value to a customer effectively.

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Value - a Virtuous Cycle

Define Value. The cycle begins as all things do with defining value. It is critical that the attention for all parties is upon the solution being sought. What are the pain points? What are the problems? What unique conditions, requirements, and constraints exist in the site? What are the customers' priorities?

Develop Value. There is a quote: "If you are asking and not finding the answers, then you may be asking the wrong questions." The data gathering and exchange during this stage becomes the criteria that develops the need of the project to fulfill the customer expectation. Explore fit, function, bid requirements and options.

Offer Value. Asset management starts before you buy. What is the product/process life cycle, operating cost, cost of ownership, strategic bidding structure and ability for the customer to get exactly what is needed and specified? Be a partner in the design process. There is an expectation that a supplier is an expert in what is offered. It is critical that a customer can make an informed business and technical decision for the design of the site's processes. Provide the in-territory, technical or factory support or tools in a timely and comprehensive manner. Influence and assist with the best procurement procedure so as not to leave the customer in a position with no power to select the equipment or technology value. Assure that the offer is developed for what is learned (and earned) through the design process.

Execute Value. If fortunate to be awarded the customer/owner's trust with an order, assure that the project fulfills the budget, timeline, specifications and requirements of the project completely. Gather all relevant data to validate and confirm that the product/process will be shipped and function as specified. If there are conflicts or errors, be proactive – firmly on the customer's team to provide value by promptly managing the discrepancy.

Deliver Value. When the product/process is delivered to the site, assure that it is to the client's expectations, complete, and of high integrity and quality. Assure that start up or technical services deliver a value to the customer team to set them up to operate the equipment to receive the highest value.

Capture Value. Make sure to be with the customer after the sale to assure that the customer received value. There is nothing more apparent as a display of character as when there are issues to be resolved. Continue to be on the customer's team for the life of the product.

It is a privilege to be called to serve wherever we are offered the opportunity. As one of the members aptly stated, "The beginning of the sale begins when we conclude the sale." Indeed, a virtuous cycle occurs when both parties win and there is a cycle of reciprocity (what each provides adds value to the other).

About the Author: Tammy L. Bernier is a member of the WWEMA Board of Directors and President and CEO of Duperon Corporation, a leader in preliminary liquids/solids separation technologies for wastewater, flood control, open channel, and industrial applications.

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