Valuing customers and loyalty: The rhetoric of customer focus versus the reality of alienation and exclusion of (Devalued) customers

Gordon Boyce*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The accounting practice of customer valuation ostensibly emerged from the so-called "customer revolution" of the 1980s. Early conceptions centred around notions such as customer focus and providing value to customers, but these ideas have latterly given way to calculation of the financial value of customers to an organisation. Integral to customer valuation are the reconstruction of the customer as an asset (or liability) of the organisation, the segmentation of customers into identifiable groups, and the treatment of customers as dollars rather than people. Whilst rhetoric of "the customer is king" persists, accounting for customer valuation brings its own transformative terminology and has become a means for organisations to selectively focus on particular customers, rather than the customer in general. The paper examines the health insurance and banking industries as exemplars of the affects of customer valuation, and discusses pivotal issues of access, equity, alienation, and social exclusion. Customer valuation is shown to have become a means to increase shareholder income and wealth, almost inevitably at the cost of (further) marginalising the poor and disadvantaged.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-689
Number of pages41
JournalCritical Perspectives on Accounting
Volume11
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2000

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