Creating and managing superior customer value: Volume 14

Cover of Creating and managing superior customer value

Table of contents

(17 chapters)

List of Contributors

Pages vii-viii
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This first paper examines total benefits and total costs of product–service designs as antecedents to customer value assessment. It introduces the reader to all the papers in this volume. The first half of the paper offers a model of customer value assessment. This section describes research studies in industrial marketing contexts that illustrate the core propositions in the model. The second half of the paper provides brief introductions to the papers in this volume; these papers offer further evidence supporting the view that discontinuous innovations offer superior customer value but customers tend to eventually become increasingly comfortable with the status quo and move away from adopting superior proven technologies. This paper advocates being mindful of the marketplace dynamics affecting value. The volume serves to increase knowledge and understanding of the dynamic forces affecting changes in customer value.

The provision of value, as a marketing issue, is receiving increasing attention from managers and scholars. This attention, in combination with strong calls for better quantification and stronger measures in marketing, has lead to increased interest in the assessment, quantified where possible, of the provision of value through buyer–seller relationships. This paper identifies dimensions of value provision through relationships in business markets with specific emphasis on the intangible aspects of value, which are important to long-term competitive advantage. The provision of value to the seller is the prime focus in this paper. The paper discusses the meaning of both tangible and intangible relationship value and the interplay between them and notes the importance of assessing the intangible part of the value, particularly the part which derives from the human aspects of the relationship. Despite their importance, the human aspects of relationships and their contribution to value is a sparse topic among researchers. The paper compares and evaluates potentially useful relationship and value conceptualizations. The paper discusses studies of relationship value and then outlines the results of a recent line of empirical research into the provision of value by a buyer to a seller that utilizes a framework synthesized from the intellectual capital literature. This recent research conceptualizes the potential for a seller's relationship with a buyer to provide intangible value to the seller in terms of, first, the resources available in the buyer and second, the capabilities of the buyer's boundary personnel to aid in facilitating the flow of those resources to the seller. The paper also includes the softer human aspects in the dimensions of value. These latter aspects are important to a full assessment of value. The paper concludes with a discussion of aspects of intangible relationship value that need further elucidation and will thus provide opportunities for future research.

This paper explores the value of the final customer in business networks. The preferences of the final customer define the concept of the network customer. The central argument of this paper is that companies within networks of value-creating relationships can act as integrators, which by interlocking limited value perspectives, can approximate an absolute value horizon that includes network customer considerations. Such interlocking activity constitutes a managerial challenge. As such, the interconnecting activity extends companies’ value horizons and can be characterized as a relationship capability, which is managerial knowledge capital that is not residing within isolated organizational actors but within the interrelations between them. Accordingly, such knowledge becomes a significant resource that can be used by both the organizations to improve their network position. By deconstructing the notion of value, this paper demonstrates the need for greater conceptual clarity and operationalization of value in the wider field of marketing, and specifically for business-to-business marketing.

Managers and academics alike focus on value creation in business relationships. This paper adds to existing literature by analyzing functions of business relationships and their impact on value perception. Applying a customer perspective, direct relationship functions are concerned about payment, quality, and volume. Indirect functions include innovation, access, and scouting. Furthermore, trust and number of alternative suppliers are included in the study. The empirical results illustrate the important role of direct and indirect functions for value creation. Understanding these functions is instrumental for driving customer value, both for the supplier and the seller. Direct functions do have a much stronger impact on value than indirect functions that still do have a significant impact. Thus, increasing direct function fulfillment is much more effective in order to gain key supplier status than relying only on indirect functions. But indirect functions may offer ample differentiation opportunities. Being a strong driver of relationship value, trust is also driven by function fulfillment. Thus, relationship value depends on rational elements (functions) and social elements (trust). Availability of alternative suppliers increases the importance of relationship function fulfillment on customer value and customer trust. In highly competitive markets, suppliers need clear understanding and communication of relationship value in order to succeed.

This paper focuses on customer value analysis and measurement, framing customer value management as one of the main antecedents of the company value-creation process. The paper builds on three main pillars. First, the paper highlights the critical role of customer value in business-to-business markets, focusing on the links between the company's ability to manage customer value-creation processes and the positive financial and economic outcomes generated by loyalty effects. Secondly, the paper develops key analytical stages for an understanding of customer value. The focus is on the customer value-chain concept, including consideration of the customer information and acquisition process and its decision rules. Third, the paper illustrates the measurement process, offering an organizational framework for selecting the most suitable method for measuring perceived customer value. The methodological alternatives range from desk measures (e.g., technical computation of the total cost of ownership (TCO)) to field analysis, like those considered under both compositional and the decomposition approaches (e.g., conjoint analysis). The paper concludes with remarks on the managerial implications of these measures, as well as offering suggestions for further research on value for the customer.

This paper explores the use of the total cost of ownership (TCO) approach from the business marketing perspective. TCO provides a method to estimate all cost associated with the acquisition, use, and disposal of a good or service over the lifetime of the purchase. Organizational buyers can employ TCO analysis to evaluate alternative offerings from suppliers, to assess ongoing supplier performance, and to drive process improvement. Sellers can use TCO models to measure, document, and communicate the value that their offering represents to a customer in the way of lower costs relative to the next best alternative. TCO analysis can be a powerful selling tool to demonstrate concrete customer value creation for alternatives that deliver comparable benefits. The execution of a TCO analysis requires experts from both the buyer and seller organizations to work closely together in mapping and modeling the target customer's application. Ideally, the sales representative leads the process in which both parties collaborate. The process contributes to the strengthening of trusting, long-term buyer–seller relationships.

Marketing metrics represent a growing concern for practitioners and scholars alike. Among the performance measures at the individual account level, customer share emerges as a concept of growing interest, yet marketing lacks rigorous customer share metrics in business markets. In addition, the construct's position within the nomological net of relationship marketing in a business-to-business (B2B) context remains unclear. This research reports findings of a cross-sectional study among purchasing managers in U.S. manufacturing industries, which indicate a positive link between customer value and customer share in business relationships. Relationship benefits have a stronger impact on customer share than do relationship costs, such that sourcing and operations benefits appear to represent the most promising levers for effective customer share management. The results finally suggest that researchers should operationalize customer share in relative terms when investigating key supplier relationships across different industries.

The role of management control has not received sufficient attention in the literature on value creation so far. Therefore, this paper aims to investigate the role of control in value creation in industrial networks. More specifically, the aim is to examine the management and control of interfaces between key resources within and between firms, in the networks surrounding firms, when they attempt to create value. All the firms that take part in a value-creation process have both formal and informal control systems: these firms have budgets, specific routines, reward systems, and sanctioned “ways to behave.” The paper relates the Industrial Marketing and Purchasing (IMP) group's research on interaction, relationships, and networks with control literature, and presents a framework for controlling resource interfaces in a network setting. Two in-depth cases illustrate the role of control in value creation. The first case covers the development of a low-weight newspaper grade that Holmen and its paper mill Hallsta initiated. The second case examines the attempt to develop and commercialize a new, energy efficient pulping technology.

This paper draws on the experiences of project marketing and solution selling to improve the understanding of how to create superior value for customers. Project marketing and solution selling have both developed approaches to deal with complex marketing situations for a number of years now. The upstream mobilization of customer network actors and the downstream enlargement of the content and scope of the offering are the key features of these approaches.

This paper presents two case studies to focus attention on elements that are crucial to this twin-track approach. The downstream extension of the offering relies on services supporting the customer's action (SSC), which supplement traditional services that support the supplier's product (SSP). The upstream extension leads to an introduction to other types of services or elements of the offering – the services supporting the customer's network actors (SSCN).

Furthermore, the paper proposes a marketing process that takes the supplier's viewpoint, for whom the entire approach is a network mobilization, into account. This approach to the offering, which included SSP, SSC, and SSCN, is typical of a network strategy in which the supplier recruits and enrolls new actors to (re)model the buying center.

This marketing process is in tune with the latest developments of the service-dominant (S-D) logic, as it proposes a move from the value chain toward a value-creation network/constellation. Consequently, creating superior value for customer means mobilizing and servicing actors far beyond the boundaries of the buying center, supply chain, and customer solution net.

This paper shows how business suppliers set up processes allowing the translation of their competencies into value for the customers. As such, this paper seeks to complement the dominant view in which competencies are seen mainly as valuable for the firm owning the competencies but not for that firm's customers. In so doing, the paper seeks to contribute to two bodies of research: the notions of core competencies in strategic management and of value for customer in business marketing. These two bodies of research interact infrequently thus far, leaving the question of how value is transferred unanswered. This question is relevant because competencies are immaterial, tacit, and non-tradable assets. Hence, the research question underlying the present paper becomes: How can competencies translate into valuable outputs and be made accessible to the customer? To answer this question, a qualitative approach is used that involves a multiple-case study analysis aimed at exploring the competence-based process of value supplying in business markets. Specifically, this paper suggests the following propositions: (1) Competence-based value analysis, where suppliers anticipate customers’ competence needs, require an end-market orientation. (2) Competence-based value creation implies an accumulation of know-how that overlaps with customer competencies. (3) Competence-based value communication builds on live communication tools that allow customers to get an ongoing experience of the value potential of competencies. (4) Competence-based value delivery is based on bundles of suppliers’ competencies into tradable means and direct access to competence tools.

After pioneering, but insular, work on the conceptualization and measurement of customer value in business markets undertaken in the 80s and 90s, interest in this topic is substantial since the beginning of this decade. Despite this recent interest, marketing scholars concur that value in business markets is still an under-researched subject. This contribution to the debate is threefold. The paper first proposes an own model of customer value conceptualization in business markets; based on several rounds of testing this theoretically grounded model in managerial practice indications exist to conclude that this model may offer benefits over current models.

Secondly, the paper provides a comprehensive survey of pricing approaches in industrial markets. The paper integrates this literature overview with own empirical findings. Concurrently the paper summarizes extant research on the link between pricing approach and profitability in industrial markets. The paper thirdly proposes a framework for value delivery and value-based pricing strategies in industrial markets. Proposing such a framework is both useful as well as necessary. Useful, since this framework guides new product development and pricing decisions and assists in the implementation of price-repositioning strategies for existing products; necessary, since the theoretical and practical adoption of value-based delivery and pricing strategies may have suffered from the lack of a unifying conceptual framework. Two case studies, one involving the pricing decision for a major product launch at a global chemical company, the other involving value delivery at an industrial equipment manufacturer, illustrate the practical applicability of the proposed framework.

Manufacturers increasingly seek new ways to add customer value and differentiate. However, in business markets such efforts often remain relatively unsuccessful, leading to a large number of services offered and higher costs, but with limited corresponding returns. Based on extensive expert interviews and case study research, this paper studies how suppliers in the highly commoditized metalworking industry try to realize new types of customer value. The paper identifies “ideal” value positions pursued by Belgian contract manufacturers and service providers in order to survive in an industry characterized by fierce price competition from low labor cost countries. Further, the paper shows how companies can migrate to these “ideal” value offerings. Key success factors and potential traps for each ideal type are identified. Market strategy transition necessitates an internal “alignment” strategy and an external “coevolution” with chain partners.

Cover of Creating and managing superior customer value
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Advances in Business Marketing and Purchasing
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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