The Commonwealth of Self Interest and customer engagement – Interview with Paul Greenberg


Share on LinkedIn

Today’s interview is with Paul Greenberg, best-selling author and founder & Managing Principal of The 56 Group, LLC, an advisory firm, focused on customer-facing strategic services. He is often called the “Godfather of CRM” and joins us today to talk about his new book: The Commonwealth of Self Interest: Business Success Through Customer Engagement, what engagement really is, the challenge and what we should be doing to improve how we serve our customers.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – Given the choice 75 percent of customers would prefer to use messaging channels for service – Interview with Joshua March of Conversocial – and is number 313 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Here’s the highlights of my chat with Paul:

  • Paul has been focused on CRM (customer engagement) for over two decades and has been given the nickname “the Godfather of CRM”.
  • If you want me to stay in my relationship with you, you’re going to have to know me.
  • The Commonwealth of Self-interest is effectively a handbook on how to actually create a customer engaged culture at a company, which is different than a customer centric culture.
  • It starts from the simplest principle of all, which is:

If a customer likes you and continues to like you, they’ll continue to do business with you. If they don’t, they won’t.

  • There are seven plus billion people on the planet, and ultimately there’s one thing that we all have in common and that is we all want to be happy.
  • That’s what self-interest is. It’s not selfishness. It’s just concerned with ….What do I have to do in my life that makes me happy?
  • If you’re a business, you’re born with constraints. That means that you can’t give everything to each customer.
  • You have to figure out what is it that you can do that allows you to impact the most customers in a way that they feel as if you are valuing them, which will make them happy.
  • There’s only one thing that customers actually value and that is feeling valued.
  • It has nothing to do with numbers, levels of discount or the percentage of the discount. It has to do with feelings.
  • And, feelings are relative and contextual.
  • So, you have to find the Commonwealth, the part of what you can do that this vast array of customers finds valuable.
  • You can’t enable how a customer feels about a company over time with technology.
  • You cannot enable how someone feels.
  • Engagement is the ongoing interactions between company and customer offered by the company, chosen by the customer.
  • Experience belongs to somebody else.
  • There is a a lack of strategy, particularly when it comes to experience or engagement.
  • If you’re truly customer engaged then your culture has to be focused around that: mutual value,   for you and your customer. It is not a tactic. It’s who you are and what you do. And, the problem that businesses have with that is the pressures, the external pressures on them and the internal pressures from management which tend to militate against that idea, especially with public companies.
  • Example:
    • Dialog Axiata, the largest telco in Sri Lanka.
    • Their Chief Customer Officer is Sandra De Zoysa.
    • They recognize that they are not just a telephone company and not just a telco but are part of Sri Lanka’s life and lifestyle. And, they have to see themselves that way in everything they do while, at the same time, recognizing that they are a business and they have to make money as a business.
    • They measure experience and engagement and conduct journey mapping every day, they have a team making real time adjustments to their website every day to improve the experience and they conduct research into their customer base all of the time.
    • One piece of research discovered that a lot of their customers were pregnant women, young mothers and mothers to be on their network. So, they asked them what are your greatest problems?
    • Interestingly they found out that they had a lot of questions about pregnancy and motherhood but to get those questions answered they had to go to the doctor….not so easy in many parts of Sri Lanka. They just wanted to be able to call someone to have their questions answered.
    • So, they set up a very cheep short-code service which would help them set up a time to speak to a doctor from the group of specialist doctors they had assembled. At the appointed time, the doctor would call and answer all of their questions over the phone.
    • They look at themselves as a company that provides service from the heart.
    • That’s customer engaged and they’re still making money.
    • They have a triple A bond rating, win awards like the best company in Asia etc.
    • What they do is not tactical, its a DNA level commitment to their customers because it’s part of life.
  • Paul’s Punk CX words: Empowered happiness.
  • Paul’s company that epitomizes a punk approach to CX: Dialog Axiata.
  • Buy The Commonwealth of Self Interest: Business Success Through Customer Engagement. Don’t hesitate. Just do it.

About Paul

Paul GreenbergPaul Greenberg is founder & Managing Principal of The 56 Group, LLC, an advisory firm, focused on customer-facing strategic services, including CRM, customer experience and customer engagement strategies.

His book, CRM at the Speed of Light now in its 4th edition, is in 9 languages and been called “the bible of the CRM industry”. It has been used by more than 70 universities as a primary text.

Currently, Paul sits on the Global Advisory Board of the SEAT Consortium as the only non-sports professional of a sports business professionals organization. Prior to this, Paul has been the EVP of the CRM Association, the Chairman of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management CRM Centre of Excellence Board of Advisors, a Board of Advisors member of the Baylor University MBA Program for CRM majors, & co-chairman of Rutgers University’s CRM Research Center.

Paul works both with customer-facing technology vendors and practitioners to craft go-to-market strategies, engagement programs, product development road maps, marketing/messaging & outreach among other things.

Paul is considered a thought leader in CRM and often called “The Godfather of CRM.” He has been published in numerous industry and business publications over the years. He was elected to CRM magazine’s CRM Hall of Fame in 2010 – the first non-vendor related thought leader in its history. He also writes on customer-facing matters for CBS’s ZDNet high profile tech media property ( He has won dozens of industry awards over the years in CRM, marketing, sales, and customer service as an influencer and thought leader.

He has just released a book on customer engagement entitled “The Commonwealth of Self Interest: Business Success Through Customer Engagement” (He also will be launching a new blog in addition to his ZDNet blog, called “The Science of Business, the Art of Life and Live from NY…” and a podcast “The Commonwealth” in mid-2019

Paul currently lives in Manassas, Virginia with his wife of more than 35 years and 7 cats (yes, 7) – and to be entirely clear – is a HUGE New York Yankees fan.

To reach Paul, please email him at [email protected]. You can follow him at Twitter @pgreenbe or join up with him on LinkedIn.



Thanks to Pixabay for the image.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here