Value Proposition & Customer-centricity | Explore & Commit

Hello Facebook & Apple – It’s about transparency and safety when it comes to value proposition and customer-centricity.

Unless you have gone well beyond the “delete Facebook” movement and literally given up the Internet altogether (which would mean I am writing this to myself), you’ve certainly had a front row seat to the Facebook vs. Apple verbal slugfest.

In this Corner…

Tim Cook from Apple landed a solid body blow to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook when he said…and I quote:

We could make a ton of money if we monetized our customers, if our customers were our product… We’ve elected not to do that … We’re not going to traffic in your personal life. Privacy to us is a human right, a civil liberty.

To which Mark Zuckerberg fired off a left hook at Apple saying:

You know, I find that argument, that if you’re not paying that somehow we can’t care about you, to be extremely glib. And not at all aligned with the truth…The reality here is that if you want to build a service that helps connect everyone in the world, then there are a lot of people who can’t afford to pay…and therefore, as with a lot of media, having an advertising-supported model is the only rational model that can support building this service to reach people.

Mark went on to quote Jeff Bezos from Amazon noting:

Jeff said, ‘There are companies that work hard to charge you more, and there are companies that work hard to charge you less.’ And at Facebook, we are squarely in the camp of the companies that work hard to charge you less and provide a free service that everyone can use.

I think Mark is passively implying that Apple is a company that works hard to charge you more.

So forgive me for playing the referee between these combatants, but from a customer-centric perspective, they are both partially correct as well as somewhat misguided.

From my humble perspective, you need five things to be a customer-centric business:

  • An offering that produces value
  • The ability to access the market for whom the value is wanted/needed
  • The skill to sell that value to the market
  • Proficiency to consistently deliver the value you sell
  • The capacity to sell your value for enough to keep you in business

Which is Nobler?

Tim Cook implies that customer-centricity means that the highest form of customer value is selling a product over a service. In essence, it’s nobler to buy an iPhone than to create value for advertisers by creating a service platform like Facebook.

Conversely, Mark Zuckerberg implies from a customer perspective free is better than fee.

Honestly, this all seems silly and shortsighted.

Creating customer value is noble – whether that value comes through:

  • Product (part of Apple’s value proposition)
  • Service (part of Facebook’s value proposition)
  • Shared Resource (think Uber or Airbnb)
  • Reselling
  • Loaning
  • Investing Capital
  • Providing Agency (for example a literary or sports agent)
  • Leasing
  • Aggregating Audiences (part of what draws advertisers to Facebook),
  • Selling Options
  • Providing Insurance


What is ignoble or contemptible is claiming to make choices that are customer-centric when those choices fail to be transparent or compromise customer safety.

In a Maslow meets customer sense, brands must produce value through a foundational commitment to basic needs (be that product safety or unauthorized dispersion of potentially harmful personal information). Then leaders require an understanding of higher level needs like human connection (fueled by both Apple and Facebook products and services).

My Focus

As I work with my consulting clients in the weeks ahead, I will attempt to navigate around the Which value is better? quagmire swirling around leaders of such high profile brands. Instead, I will focus on how to be maximally transparent about the value that is being created and how that value is being funded.

Similarly, I will guide those with whom I partner, to take care of fundamental needs like human safety and privacy. Only through these actions will they be fully able to demonstrate their commitment to customer-centricity!

Your Value Proposition Opportunity

I’d love to explore your value proposition and customer-centricity. Please sign-up for a complimentary call to discuss by visiting




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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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