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Added Value

In Category: Thoughts
Published: 18/12/2013

The Value of Added Value

The phrase “Value Added” originated in the grocery sector when supermarkets realised that if they chopped our lettuce and tomato, etc. for us we would pay much more for the resultant product than we would for the individual ingredients of a salad. “Value Added” refers to "extra" features of an item of interest (product, service, person etc.) that goes beyond the standard expectations and provides something "more" while adding little or nothing to its cost.

In almost all areas of professional services (including Legal Recruitment and the management and support of Legal Careers) there is an expectation that the service provider will add value in the service provided, that they will indeed go beyond the standard expectation and deliver more to the end user than might be the norm. Indeed there is some evidence to suggest that clients are more sensitive to the value added elements of a service than they are to price.

When I consider our need to provide added value I try to think of what my expectations are when engaging a professional to work either professionally or personally: -

  • I want them to understand me and my needs. I am busy all of the time – I do not want to explain my requirements every time I need something done.
  • I like to be confident that I and the service provider are ad idem in all respects. They should know what I would like to achieve at what cost by what means whether they are a plumber, lawyer or mechanic. Fearing a misunderstanding or dispute down the line is a great reason for me to walk away.
  • I want to trust them to get the job done. Specifically I want to tick this item – whatever it may be off my “To Do list” confident that the work is being done without any unnecessary involvement on my part.

Then I think of the things that drive me bonkers when dealing with a service provider; specifically: -

  • The problem I have engaged them to attend to is and remains my problem to fix and my supplier will metaphorically kick the tyres and suck their teeth but any solution is down to me.  Now I have the problem I started with plus the problem of paying someone who has achieved nothing.  The supplier probably knew at all times that they lacked the ability to provide the service required but wanted my money and would “give it a go”.
  • The price I have agreed to pay changes (this is always an upwards change) for no reason. I can understand that if I change my requirements or an undiscovered problem arises I may need to pay more than expected but where the price changes simply because the supplier wants it to or judges that it would now be inconvenient for me to instruct someone else I hate it and if forced to pay the additional price will make a point of not using them again.
  • I only have occasional need of the services involved and in consequence it is made plain that I am low on the list of priorities for the provider. For goodness sakes – if you are not interested in doing the work say so and I will go elsewhere.

I apply the same sort of thought process in all aspects of my life – when I hire someone I want to know not only that they can do the job but also that they will go the extra mile for Cogence and its clients, that I can trust them to understand what is required of them and that they will get on with their job without me having to do it for them. When I accept an instruction I have to be satisfied that I can deliver on the retainer.

The need to provide added value can at times seem like an imposition but in reality it is what makes the job worth doing: it is about shared endeavour mutual trust and shared joy in success. I constantly find that putting in the extra effort to add value to a client relationship adds value to Cogence: by making sure that we deliver all that we promise to deliver on, that we really understand our client’s needs and expectations and that we fully earn the respect and trust we are given we improve our business. In my humble opinion adding value in all professional services is not an imposition or a burden it is simply the best way to work for all concerned.




Written by Mark Husband

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