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What does our customer value?

What is value to our customer may be the most important question we ask.

Peter Drucker observed that many organizations clearly understand the needs they would like to meet. But they don’t understand these needs from the customers’ perspective. We make assumptions based on our own interpretation of the customers’ needs.

While in graduate school, my class received a grant from the City of Columbus to survey Italian Village, a low-income neighborhood. We went door-to-door asking questions and talking with neighbors.

I vividly remember talking to Walter and Joe, two elderly men that lived in a sparse apartment. They told me they were terrified of me and other twenty-somethings with clipboard, walking through their neighborhood. During our conversation I learned they were barely making ends meet on their fixed income. They were worried about losing their home. Gentrification was encroaching on the edge of their neighborhood.

Walter and Joe valued safety and the security of knowing where they lived. Columbus valued upgrading a neighborhood that would lead to increasing property taxes. Since then, Italian Village has been revitalized. It is part of the Short North Arts District. Increased property values displaced Walter, Joe and most of their neighbors.

Our customers behave within their own perspective, their own situation.

It helps to know if our product or service is valuable to the customer. Try to identify the customers’ needs. Then determine how well we are meeting them. If all else fails, ask them. “What does our organization do that is valuable to you?” “What really helps you?”

What does our Primary Customer Value?

Consider the different types of people we are serving. A single parent with a young child has different needs compared to a retired couple. Understanding each groups’ values can help set objectives based on their relevant needs.

It is really hard to be all things to all customers. Focus on our strengths. Build partnerships with organizations that offer complementary services to the customer.

What does the Secondary Customer Value? What do volunteers, religious organizations, civic groups, businesses or foundations that also champion our cause value?

Volunteers value meaningful achievement. They value working through our organization to grow the mission impact that they support. How are we providing volunteers meaningful achievement in the cause they support?

“Volunteers must get far greater satisfaction from their accomplishments and make a greater contribution precisely because they do not get a paycheck.” -Peter Drucker

Religious organizations value our organization as a vehicle to launch their members to take action by serving through us. How are we providing value to religious organizations?

Civic organizations value the impact we are making to build a stronger community or environment. How are we communicating the positive impact we are making in our community?

Businesses value nonprofits that effectively grow mission impact of the cause they support. They want to know their donation is well spent on the cause they support. How do we identify businesses that share our cause?

Foundations value, more than any other group, focus on outcomes, not outputs. They don’t care how many customers we serve. They want to know many primary customers are being transformed, how we are growing their mission impact. They expect their grant to effectively make a positive, measurable impact on the cause the foundation supports. How does our grant application clearly state our outcomes on the application that supports the cause the foundation and we share?

Consider our core strengths in terms of each customer and what they value.

How well are we providing what our customers consider value?

Questions about what your customer's values. Book a call with Wes

Wes Legg

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