Different kinds of customers
When thinking about customer value, I come to the conclusion that it is much more than just the money you can earn, but the kind of relationship you built with them. Personally, I find a lot of value in great customer feedback, getting referrals and probably most important, being helpful to other people.
I always had to struggle a little with vertical customer segmentation, where you differentiate between premium customers, regular customers and low-end customers, as a major part of my business involves direct contact with my customer and his or her specific needs.
The talk by Malcolm Gladwell [in this module] instead covers horizontal customer segmentation in a very enjoyable manner. While he chooses a product based example, his lecture is also very adaptable to a service oriented business. Instead of building a hierarchy of your customers by vertical segmentation you can build clusters of customers on a horizontal plane.
Respect your customer
The main difference between offering consulting or a product in your business is the level of guidance you provide for your customer. While the product leaves the application to the buyer, you can provide support to get them started using it. In consulting, this process has a far more dominant role.
When you build vertical customer segments, you are very likely to value your best paying customer the most. You might spend more time and effort on this customer, but if it all about the money, there could be a lack of important factors, that makes the difference for a long and fulfilling business relationship or a short spike in your income.
Find out what kinds of customers you have
Therefore it is very important to think about the types of customers you have, the ones you had and those you would like to work with. What kind of services can you offer them? Which product would they like? Can you deliver what your customer wants or do you need help from outside of your own business.
We have learned in a previous lesson, and probably in life before, that you cannot please everyone. But if you have learned the ability to identify your customers need, you might be able to offer a good solution to the task at hand by someone else.
I am currently in the process of moving my clients to the horizontal plane. This is useful to identify different levels of certain services while still being able to offer a custom solution that is best for the client. It also helps me to identify the services, that I can be a broker for and become active in finding suitable partners to deliver my customer value beyond my personal abilities.