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Increase Customer Lifetime Value – Without Changing Your Product

Written by JJ Reynolds

Lover of actionable data. Builder of systems that grow. Helping organizations grow using good data, not hopes & prayers.

The secret to increasing your Customer Lifetime Value is Utils.

What is a Util you ask? It’s short for utility aka a way to measure worth or value. For all of those economics nerds chomping at the bit, we are going to use a grammatical math formula – stick with me here…  Util = Pleasure.  OK, ready?

The greatest example of this is when you buy a slice of Pizza. 

The Pizza Paradox & Customer Retention (aka – storytime)

You had a long day and are starving. Walking by a pizza shop you notice they are selling slices for $2 each. You buy one slice of pizza and that pizza provides you a level of pleasure aka Util. Lets put a number on that (50 Utils).

You were really hungry and it was good pizza so 50 seems adequate. You receive 50 Utils for your $2.

Screengrab of the Utility definition

After gobbling that down, you order a second slice. (It is still $2). Since you are no longer “starving” it was slightly less enjoyable. But still good. 

Instead of 50 utils, that second slice was 40 Utils of pleasure. Do you see where this is going?

You buy a third slice of pizza. You are past your normal level of satiation, but you know its so good. The third slice (still $2) gets purchased and you are no longer hungry. 

Maybe it provides you just 20 utils. 🙁 sad day. 

Now imagine how much pleasure you have for the 8th slice of pizza… Not much if anything, you might be in pain now.

This same thing can happen to your brand. The pizza (your brand) still costs $2 but the level of pleasure (number of utils) went down with each slice (each purchase)  because you didn’t do anything to change their experience.

  1. You knew what you were expecting (Pizza)
  2. You were getting used to it (getting full). 

If you were able to have a different slice of pizza each time, you might more Utils over a longer period of time.


The more utils you can provide a customer/lead/donor/sponsor on the post-transaction experience the more likely they will come back for a second one.

A few examples: 

  • Expecting just a receipt? Send them a video.
  • Expecting a T-shirt? Write a note.
  • Expecting a chatbot? Send a human.
  • Expecting a scheduled Zoom meeting? Give them a call out of the blue.

If you haven’t caught on, the name of the game is Surprise & Delight at scale.

If you haven’t caught on, the name of the game is Surprise & Delight at scale. 

If you can surprise and delight again by wowing your customer again at each level of purchase then they will keep coming back in turn increasing their LTV. You set the new normal and then level it up with surprise and delight. 

You are probably thinking why are we talking about Pizza, Utils, and LTV. 

It comes down to one thing. If you can keep those Utils (Level of Pleasure) high no matter if they are transacting $5 or $5,000 you will keep them coming back. BUT… you do not want them to be expecting this as the new normal.  That is how you end up with a depreciating Util curve (similar to the pizza). 

How does Util LTV apply to your business? 

You want your customer to feel how they do when they see this photo. You want them to be like, “wow, that is cool”, and “I wasn’t expecting that”.

Let’s say you sell desks. Nothing too crazy, just a good solid desk. 

When you sell your desk (say for $500). The customer has an expectation of getting four legs and a tabletop (50 utils). What if you delivered a desk AND a quality cable management system with a quick note about why you sent it. 

It might cost you $1 from You now are delivering 55 Utils because they were not expecting this. 

A different way many companies, especially large tech companies do this is by having an AMAZING  unboxing experience. You weren’t expecting it, but you ended up walking away saying “wow”. 

Ideas for your business

Here are a few off the cuff ideas. Feel free to move them around and change them to fit your business. No credit card required, but I’d love to hear how you did it so feel free to send me a message at any time. 

Thank You Videos

Individualized videos are getting easier and easier to integrate into your workflows. Bonjouro and BombBomb are two great options to say “Thank You” immediately after a transaction.

I am personally a bigger fan of Bonjoro (they also get points for cuteness)

Personalized Notes

You might think its nearly impossible to get notes out to everyone who transacts with you in a timely manner. You are wrong in that thought. The markets have deemed this something they would like and the markets have provided. 

Hand Written Notes

Hand Wrytn

These two companies integrate with Zapier and other CRMs to give you a huge amount of autonomy to decide when and where a customer should get a “thank you” note. 

Thank You Pages 

You might think of a thank you page as somewhere that provides a level of excitement. But this is the perfect place to frame what is going to happen. Answer the questions that your customers are going to ask. 

  1. How long until I hear from you? 
  2. Do I get a discount on my next transaction? 
  3. If I refer a friend what happens? 
  4. How is this going to work?
  5. Can I get a refund in the future? 

I hope you liked at least a few of these examples and understand how you can use utils to increase your Customer Lifetime Value.

What is the biggest impact for LTV

The biggest way to increase your Customer Lifetime Value is to make their post purchase experience delightful. Talk to a sales rep, send them a video, or give them a call. They will be happier and a future customer.

Does Lifetime Value Matter?

LTV is the most important metric to track across your customer acquisition model. The bigger your LTV the more you can spend to get a customer and the more you can make on the back end.