Customer value can be interpreted in different ways. The customer’s point of view refers to their desired value in a product or service, and its perceived value, which is the benefit a customer actually received after it was purchased. The industry’s point of view, on the other hand, is about how much a company values its customers. Conceptually, the value of a firm’s customer base is the sum of the lifetime value of its current and future customers (Gupta, Lehmann, & Stuart, 2004). These two are closely related; if you value a customer in the right way, that person will probably also value the product more. Therefore, customer satisfaction is partly achieved by giving them honest attention and appropriate service.
Yet, according to Reaves, defining your customers by being satisfied or dissatisfied is not enough. He believes there are six types of customers: the ‘endorsers’, who tell other people about your company in a positive way – the ‘buyers’, who will probably keep buying from you, but no longer endorses the business – the ‘satisfied mutes’, who are quite and ok with how the business is doing – the ‘dissatisfied mutes’, who aren’t that positive anymore – the ‘Grumblers’, those who perceive everything you do as wrong because they have already experienced too many negative incidents. Last, the ‘complainers’: telling everyone how bad your company is.
Which group of customers deserves most value? Or better, which group needs the most value in order not to lose them? Reaves states that the endorsers need to be capitalized on as they are the best customers and they should stay that way. The dissatisfied mutes and grumblers have lost faith in the product and the industry should stop them from moving to business elsewhere. The complainers are deadly for the company and there are many positive incidents necessary to satisfy them again. Looking to the customer pyramid, these customers can be called ‘Lead’ or ‘Iron’ from the least profitable part. Are they worth all the time and money?
All customers have their own unique set of needs, desires, experiences and expectations and it is difficult to focus on all of them. In the cruise industry there are many customers nowadays that want a more unique and special experience with extra good attention, known as a premium experience, and they are willing to pay more for it. If the business values these customers more, the relationship and bond between them will get stronger. As well it could come with customer loyalty and eventually benefit with an increasement in sales and profitability. Customers can demonstrate loyalty to price, brand, company, and other customers (Zikmund, 2002). Those customers, that are most profitable are called ‘Platinum’ because they spend more and will probably also spread a positive word of mouth. They do cost a lot of time to maintain but in the end it will all be worth it for the cruise industry.
Figure 6.4 Zeithami, V., Bitner, M. J., & Gemier, D. (2012) The Customer Pyramid
Gupta, S., Lehmann, D., & Stuart, J. A. (2004). Valuing Customers. Journal of Marketing Research,41(1), 7–18.
Magatef, S. G., & Tomalieh, E. F. (n.d.). The Impact of Customer Loyalty Programs on Customer Retention. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 6(8),
Peelen, E. and Beltman, R. (2013) Customer Relationship Management. 2nd edn. Pearson Education Limited.
Reaves, ???? – Six Types of Customers
Zeithami, V., Bitner, M. J., & Gremier, D. (2012). The Customer Pyramid. Services marketing: Integrating customer focus accross the firm (6th ed.). McGraw-Hill / Irwin. (Figure 6.4)