Loyal Customers or Valuable Customers?


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What would you rather have, loyal customers or successful customers? Which group would be more valuable to your company? These questions are meant to point out that loyal customers aren’t necessarily valuable ones because loyalty usually means that customers buy from you when they buy – no matter how little.

Now, only successful customers can be valuable in every sense of the word. For example, customers who have success in generating revenue and profits make them financially valuable, which is attractive to potential and existing suppliers; or they are so successful they buy enough from your company to be classified as a valuable revenue source; or because they are successful in their industry, your company’s relationship with them creates marketing and branding value, whether it’s through general association or overt publicity on the customer’s part; or customers become valuable consulting partners because they successfully (and accurately) gather industry and market condition information. Notice that all of these valuable things are only something successful customers can provide.

So, the real goal isn’t how to make customers loyal, but to help them become successful and therefore, valuable. How can this be done?

First of all, any business’ definition of success is influenced by, for example, where a company is in their business “life cycle(s),” the diversity of their customer base, the age and mixture of their products, the realism of their monetary and sales goals, and their total ability to execute strategies. More importantly, business success is influenced by the “details” of the afore mentioned items that, for the most part, are “hidden” from those who are not “inside” the company.

This means that if you are going to help customers create success, you have to proactively uncover deep knowledge about their businesses – knowledge based on information that goes beyond your products and related services – in order to find the criteria they use to define success, what they are doing to create the success and, more importantly, what’s keeping them from achieving higher success because they cannot see the obstacles due to the “forest and trees” syndrome.

Using this deep knowledge, your company can help create your customers’ success in two important ways:

First, by supplying, or helping find, solutions – unique or otherwise – to their needs, wants and issues that were found during the discovery process: Needs, wants and issues that are obscure in nature; those put into context because bits of related information were finally uncovered; those customers fail to mention because they’re so basic solutions are expected to be provided; those customers demand because they can in today’s economy.

Second, by creating a link between the benefits you offer, the activities you perform and the results customers work for. This is important because customers don’t buy products and services; they buy results promised by the benefits your company offers and the results each activity your company performs to make the promise a reality. This link highlights the positive and adverse impact your company’s benefits and activities have on those results.

All the work your company does to create satisfaction, positive experiences and loyalty should have only one purpose in mind – creating successful, valuable customers. It’s the definitive reason they do business with you.

Do we worry enough about how we effect the total success of our customers? Do we worry enough about how their total success affects our business? Any thoughts?

Jonathan Narducci
CornerStone Cubed
Jonathan Narducci, owner of CornerStone Cubed, uses his more than 30 years of experience in business, management and quality systems to help clients design the execution eco-system they need to make initiatives work as intended using his Execution by Design Framework and Process.


  1. Jonathan, I really enjoyed your post. To answer your question:

    [quote=Jonathan Narducci]
    Do we worry enough about how we effect the total success of our customers?

    I think the answer is almost certainly, “No.” But thanks for the reminder. If customers are truly successful and link that success to doing business with us, it can’t help but make them truly loyal in both attitude and actions.

    As the old story goes, people don’t buy drills, they buy holes (results). Actually, it may go further than that. A guy buying a drill bit is actually seeking that warm feeling that results when he hears, “Honey, that new bookcase looks great!”

    Bob Thompson, CustomerThink Corp.
    Blog: Unconventional Wisdom

  2. Bob,

    Thank you for the response. Yes, it’s the ultimate goals of the customer that opens up new value opportunities. A sales person learning that the guy who bought the drill bit was looking for “Honey, that new bookcase looks great!” comment could/should open up the opporunities for adding value to his purchase – help in designing the bookcase, plans for construction process, etc.

    Good comment.


    CornerStone Cubed
    Building Customer Powered Value

  3. I had contacted today a pet food company that I have contacted by email twice in 4 months. On each occasion my emails were not sent a response.

    I called the company today to let them know about my concerns packaging and lack of response. This product is a high end product and expensive…freshness is a concern to me and my cats…so packaging is very important.

    The person on the phone who was a manager of customer service……really did not care whether I called your not………Thought that my concerns were not that important…even though this was a small company compared to the larger multinational companies that sell pet food.

    The response and the service stinks……My cats love the food….

    If I can find another company that valued my business instead of dealing with people who really felt that I was a plain nuisance…I would buy products from another company.


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