Valued Customer

Been pondering the concept of the "valued customer". What is it that makes one client more valuable than another?

Take airlines, for example. There's cattle class, and way up front is first class. All on the same flight, same airline, same luggage space, same fuel being used to get them from A to B. Yet the treatment between front and back is dramatically different. Cattle class, you get squashed in (pounded in to your seat and strapped down firmly). Surrounded by the heaving masses of humanity and lack of leg room that makes up the back of the plane. Business class - little better. First class - they give you the world!

Why? Because you pay more to sit up front, so they take better care of you.

But... and here's a random thought...

How often do people repeat-fly first class, unless they've got more cash than they can spend in 5 lifetimes? And how often do people repeat-fly cattle class? Surely the bloke that uses your airline 5 times a month to get from Joburg to Cape Town on business, but pays for and sits in the cramped rear of your plane is a more valued customer than the big-spending chap up in first class who is revelling in luxury once in a blue moon? So which one should be your more valued customer? Which one should you bend over backwards to please?

I vote the bloke in cattle class, the one that regularly hands you his credit card and puts his life in your hands. Make him as happy as possible, make his journey awesome, and you'll not only have a valued customer, but a customer evangelist! He'll tell all his friends that he flew cattle class and was treated like a king! Earning you a whole pile more valued customers...

OK, now go apply this one to business models and money-making opportunities across the globe. Turn the whole valued customer thing upside down and see if giving the ordinary bloke the special treatment doesn't do more for your company than all the molly-coddling of a special few.

I'm no expert - but doesn't that kinda make sense?