Why are so many companies vulnerable in the ‘age of the customer’?


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So much of what is happening under the Customer umbrella occurs to me as being wide of the mark. Why? Because of the unwillingness to honestly face what is so. Which begs the question what is so?

“The reason so many companies are vulnerable is because the state of relationships between companies and customers is so poor. Products and services tend to be impersonal. Responsiveness tends to be uneven at best, or miserable at worst.

It is reasonable to assert that frustration, annoyance, and anger have been building up among customers for decades. They are tired of being treated as numbers, of being mislead or even lied to, and of being considered targets instead of living, breathing human beings.” – Michael Hinshaw and Bruce Kasanoff, Smart Customers Stupid Companies

Why now? Because social media enables transparency of a kind never seen before. Because social media enable customers to easily voice their experiences, share them with the world, and thus influence/shape behaviour – customers, media, governments. And most importantly because of the many who are busy figuring out how to use digital technologies to create a new world of possibilities enabled by digital technologies and social customers.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Maz Iqbal
Experienced management consultant and customer strategist who has been grappling with 'customer-centric business' since early 1999.


  1. Maz: I’ve wondered the same thing. But I think I found one thing that explains the disconnectedness between companies and their customers: many databases use account numbers, user-ID’s, email addresses, or telephone numbers as the primary key. Pragmatic as this might be for a database architect, this design weakness colors every interaction companies have with customers. Social media might finally enable us to “see people as people,” but we’re a long way off from really understanding what that means, and how to improve customer experiences.

  2. Hello Andrew

    You have introduced a new enquiry into my thinking. It had never occurred to me that database design might have this impact. Up to now it occurred to me that we live in action centred cultures where is the task/result is primary. And people/relationships are hidden/forgotten in the background. When I see the game of business I see a game designed and played by people with technology merely as useful equipment. Yet, in organisational life it is technology that takes centre stage and not the people.

    I thank you for providing me with food for thought.



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