What is customer value?

We know what it means

what-is-customer-valueIntuitively most of know what customer value means to us, but as businesses and organisations how often do we step back and think what does customer value mean to our customers? Perhaps more importantly how often do we think about how to deliver it consistently well and at scale?


Customers’ perceptions of value will differ from person to person and from time to time but for businesses creating a particular ‘flavour’ or style of customer value is important. It’s important because there are real operational benefits and real brand benefits in doing so. Take a simple example. If your customer value ‘close relationships’ or intimacy through which you deliver a personalised service then the operating models required to consistently deliver against this promise at scale are different to those used by organisations who’s customers value operational excellence and perhaps more cost efficient services. In this respect customer value management is quite different to customer experience management that tends to focus on interactions and transactions rather than value delivery systems.

Brand positioning

It’s the same in terms of brand positioning. Delivering consistently against brand promises that value innovation more highly than say ‘social value’, requires a different operating model. Alignment of the strategies, people, processes and information technologies to deliver these kinds of distinct propositions is not easy. It required a deeper more considered strategy than you might first think. It means that marketing and customer value are not just communications challenges in a marketing campaign or customer experience. It means marketing considerations go deep into the operational capability of the organisation.

Getting the balance right

Obviously, most organisations have elements of operational excellence, customer intimacy, innovation or social value. But, some build differentiation through just one or two of these, focusing their investments in brands that offer real distinction through the discipline they specialise in. In short, they promote one or two forms of customer value above others to create differentiation. This is what makes them stand out from the crowd, it’s what their customers, over time, recognise and value. What makes these organisations special is that they think hard about what customer value is, and more importantly how they deliver it consistently and at scale.