This is the third in a series devoted to building business on value and redesigning your business to maximize customer perceived value.

Measuring customer perceived value is a key marketing process. It replaces the idea that pricing should be based on cost of production plus profit margin. This provides great flexibility to those providing fixed products and services. Prudent small business owners can – if they want to take the risk – shape and reshape their product to fit customer needs in motion. For example, bakers or florists can flavor or arrange product in multiple variations.
Value is what makes customer’s move their business, so, keeping customers happy takes on a new importance. Where customer satisfaction can be clearly measured, small business owners need to survey their customers’ perception regularly – with the intent to adjust service and product to those measured needs. Touching base with customers with some regularity respects and flatters them. However, unless the surveys lead to change or improvement, the customer feels ignored and disrespected.

Some small businesses mistake a phone call or a “how ya doin'” as a survey. The survey is better focused on specific elements of the perceived value.

  • Ask questions that address functions of your product/service. Determine if the satisfaction has to do with color, size, assembly, or structural utility.
  • Phrase questions that confirm you competitive edge. Determine if the product delivers on the edge you promised. Reconfirm that your product is larger than. Lighter than, more durable than the competitor
  • Check on the customer’s emotional response. There is a benefit in reassuring the customer that it is good to feel “good” about owning the product. We don’t ask enough people, “Tell me, how do you feel about this?”
  • Let the survey remind the customer indirectly that your service met his dreams. Help them see how you helped them to stand out, to have some bragging rights.
  • Make sure the cost is tied to the value. An assembled product may be a “bargain” to someone who doesn’t have the time or talent to put things together. Convenience, time, delivery, payment terms, and checkout process: all these are values in different ways to different customers. So, let the survey be the tool where you remind the customer that it was the convenience (or whatever) that made the difference.)

One approach is to survey the customer once shortly after the sale. Another is to survey the customer repeatedly with brief questionnaires that address each of the value factors listed here.

I know this takes time and attention, but it also gives structure to customer follow-up you should be doing in the first place. For example, you should be talking to a customer once a month. It won’t be hard to use one or more of these factors as the purpose of that call.


By Steven Schlagel