Companies must focus on value for customers. However, all customers are not the same. Globalization has created all types of problems for businesses. One of the issues is how to stay ahead of the competition by exploring new markets while keeping the same customer base. This action is not easy.
Mark Johnston and Greg Marshall, authors of Relationship Selling, maintain that customers expect and deserve consistency in the way an organization’s value-added message is put forth. 
Being strategic conscious about these business relationships is not simple. Marketing expert Ken Favaro further suggests that putting value creation consistently first requires leadership skills, discipline, and perseverance. He further challenged organizations to demand higher standards from managers who would jeopardize these business relationships.
These marketing problems are worthy of the most decorated scientists. In fact, the right value proposition is critical because all customers are not created the same. When organizations place value creation as a high priority, organizations will beat their competition because they will deploy capital better and develop internal talent better.
Customer expectations and customer needs are often different. Management expert Ray Miller further suggests a “strategic trap” for businesses seeking to meet customer expectations. Delivering below expectations is obviously bad. However, simply satisfying customers will not guarantee customer loyalty either because they are getting nothing more or less than they expect.
Furthermore, some businesses get caught up being efficient in developing cookie cutter solutions for the masses. Yet, they overlook that value seeking customers are looking for products and services that solve their specific needs.
Consequently, employees should be motivated to provide value for customers if the businesses want to be successful. In fact, this reality involves being compensated fairly, being treated with respect, and being given meaningful work. Finally, companies must understand that customer value expectations are often different. Therefore, businesses that manage customer expectations effectively will possess a distinctive advantage in the market.
Please discuss your professional experience with customer value differences.
© 2013 by Daryl D. Green
7 thoughts on “Customer Value Differences”
I’m sure you would agree that a product doesn’t always sell itself, especially when you consider that values and expectations differ between customers. Some people prefer aesthetics while others prefer quality. When a business takes the time to understand what its customer wants, then that business can build a relationship with that customer that lasts longer than one single sale. Of course, understanding customers takes a lot of effort because not every customer is the same, obviously.
According to an article published in the Harvard Business Review, “the key to delivering a great experience for customers is to have empathy for the customers.” That means that when I visit Firezone and don’t necessarily understand which is better – a regular gasket or a silicone gasket – then the sales person should take the time to explain this to me. Talking to customers is nothing to be afraid, and bearing a few exceptions, most of us prefer when we are engaged directly, of course. It shows that we are being treated with respect. In the video above, Kristina Every, however, mentions that engaging a customer means listening to the customer’s true needs. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Merholz, Peter. (2009). “The Best Way to Understand Your Customers.” Harvard Business Review. Accessed from: http://blogs.hbr.org/merholz/2009/03/the-best-way-to-understand-you.html. (Blog posted on 09-05-2013).
Businesses must consider how to best create value for their chosen target markets and develop strong, profitable, long-term relationships with customers. To do so, businesses need to understand consumer markets (Kotler & Keller, 2012).
Each customer is different. It can be a challenge for businesses to find ways to please all of their customers. But there are ways that businesses can connect to their customers, through a customer service department or an online survey, in order to find out what the customers really think of the business or service. When they find out what customers want, they can use that to come up with new marketing ideas and ways to improve the business to keep customers coming back.
Creating a strong, tight connection to customers is the dream of any business and often the key to long-term marketing success (Kotler & Keller, 2012).
Kotler, Philip, & Keller, Kevin Lane. (2012). Marketing Management. Pearson Education Limited.
Does anyone have any example of how a business builds this value mentioned by Traci?
What about companies that “demo” (a fancier word for sample) their products for free? In lieu of what Traci mentioned in her post, I was thinking of how many times I’ve demoed a product only to purchase it later because of how impressed I was with its features. One example concerns video game companies, who offer demos (short/limited versions) of their gams in order to attract consumers to purchase the said games at a later date. Of course, that attraction doesn’t come immediately. Part of the demo process serves as a sort focus group, where such companies test their products with consumers in order to improve them before their official release.
Another example concerns the decked out Red Bull cars that we often see speeding past us. There was a time when I was hanging out with some friends on the UTK campus, and these two (attractive) girls exited the Red Bull car and offered us a bunch of Red Bull cans for free. We loved the drinks so much, we ended up hooked on them for a while (not recommended if you’re trying to stay healthy, though).
Anyway, those are just some thoughts. I’d love to hear what you guys think!
The Business Dictionary defines customer value as the difference between what a customer gets from a product and what he or she has to give in order to get it.  My personal experience with customer value comes from my work at a local ski shop here in Knoxville, TN. It is a small ski shop but it sees a lot of business. I noticed many customers coming in wanting a set of skis or a snowboard and after inquiring about a certain one they next would ask about price matching. When asked about price matching the manager always gave the same answer, “We don’t have to price-match.” Then the manager would ask questions about how much care the big retail stores took with their customers and what else they offered besides just the skis or snowboard. The answer was always “nothing”. Our manager would then say “we form relationships here.” Most of the time the customer would end up buying a slightly more expensive ski or snowboard from us because the customer valued the added attention to detail and the fact that we cared if they were in the right set of skis to maximize their potential. The customer valued good advice.
Business dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/customer-value.html
According to one source, “Delivering value is about enhancing your customer’s competitive advantage, and competitive advantage is about your customer’s ability to leverage his differential value” (“Building value through,” 2010).
Now reading your post Dr. Green, I have to admit it seemed almost impossible marketing to cater to different customers needs. However, I think after reading further about customer value differences, I am thinking it is much more feasible that originally thought.
According to CIMA, some of the tips to deliver a good value proposition while differentiating, include the following:
1. Learn all you can about your customer: there is lots of information in the public domain and it should not take much time to collect it.
2. Consider what your research says about your customer’s context – especially sources of pain and difficulty.
3. Find ways of using your company’s unique capabilities and build them into a solution that is difficult to copy – and easy to buy.
4. Build a powerful value proposition and learn how to deliver it persuasively and compellingly.
Building value through differentiation. (2010, October). Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, Retrieved from http://www.cimaglobal.com/Thought-leadership/Newsletters/Insight-e-magazine/Insight-2010/Insight-October-2010/Building-value-through-differentiation/
The value of effective market communication is the need to reach the right customers with your product.” Whether you create an email campaign, plan direct mail marketing with letters or postcards or simply intend to distribute fliers and business cards to prospective customers at a trade fair, you want to convey a message that gets results.” (Measures, 2013) If you do not deliver the right message to your prospective customer it can hurt the value of you product. Notice in the quote above the they emphasize the message that gets results. Marketing the product or service correctly can change how the product is perceived in the eyes of the consumer.
Measures, A. (2013). About effective marketing communication. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/effective-marketing-communication-1443.html