Are We Blowing in the Wind


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I look at esteemed customer think tanks, such as Customer Think, Customer Value Foundation, and CVCI and well know customer thought leaders. We all preach the customer mantra. We all talk about better ways to improve the customer experience and increase Customer Value.

We all bemoan not enough is being done. We suggest, we preach, we cajole

Why is the Customer thing we preach not really happening?

First let us accept certain facts

  1. CEO’s are smart people. Smarter than average
  2. They do not need a consultant to tell them what their priorities ought to be. They think they are giving the customer the right priority
    1. Also is it true that CXO’s are busier then middle managers and front line people? Or is it a priority issue?
  3. They believe they are doing enough for the customer
  4. They are successful at what they do (if it ain’t broke, why fix it?)
  5. They believe they are responsible to the shareholder and shareholder returns are important. If CEO’s are being forced to react to short term profits, then the customer may not get the right priority
  6. They believe in delegating and the customer priority is delegated
  7. We have a quality program and the customer is taken care of
  8. We measure customer scores, and we are doing well

Certain things that we would like the CEO to do

  1. Not be a CEO god, have more customer interaction, get more customer information from outside the company
  2. Build a Customer Strategy. Assign Customer tasks to all departments, measure their progress and show the customer priority in the business
  3. Break silos
  4. Give the customer a higher priority. Should the customer be priority one? Ensure customer data such as Customer Value added is reported along with quarterly financial results
  5. He should measure Customer Value which tells him where his company is better or worse than competition and why customers buy or do not buy from them
  6. Help build a customer centric mind set/ attitudes. Bonuses driven also from customer results
  7. Put into action a Customer’s Bill of Rights and a Circle of Promises to uphold the rights

If competition gets their act together or there is disruptive innovation, where are you with customers?Then it might be too late.

What we must do to be more Customeric to the CEO (or what the CEO might want to see)

  1. Tell me what I will get in profits for increased investment in time and money on the customer. How much will my market share increase by. Will I become more efficient?
  2. Will I reduce customer churn and increase loyalty. Is there a good measure other than NPS and Customer Value Added
  3. How will this help my employees? Will I get happier employees and lower employee churn?
  4. Will it make my team/processes more customer centric?
  5. Can I really get to zero complaints?
  6. Will I get an early warning system about my competition and marketplace?
  7. Will it get me better pricing and de-commoditise my products?
  8. Will it get me to beahead of competition on new offerings?

If we cannot answer these questions, why should the CEO change a management process taught at B schools?

A similar thing happened when the quality revolution started. Most CEO’s were aware of quality, but did nothing to make it a strategy. A few leader like CEO’s embraced the quality thought process, and improved quality of the products and across the company and its services. They found there were fewer complaints, and that customers preferred them. Moreover, costs went down, and profits went up.

Those that did not clamber on the the quality bandwagon were laggards, and were falling behind. They had to catch up.

Leaders today have a choice of being ahead of, similar to or behind competition.

Your comments are welcome!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Gautam Mahajan
Gautam Mahajan, President of Customer Value Foundation is the leading global leader in Customer Value Management. Mr Mahajan worked for a Fortune 50 company in the USA for 17 years and had hand-on experience in consulting, training of leaders, professionals, managers and CEOs from numerous MNCs and local conglomerates like Tata, Birla and Godrej groups. He is also the author of widely acclaimed books "Customer Value Investment: Formula for Sustained Business Success" and "Total Customer Value Management: Transforming Business Thinking." He is Founder Editor of the Journal of Creating Value ( and runs the global conference on Creating Value (


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