Why is customer-centric strategic planning so atrocious?


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Calling corporate customer-centric planning deficient is paying it a big compliment. From Fortune companies to entrepreneurial businesses, and our practice spans both, well under 10% of companies understand even the most rudimentary techniques for letting customers drive the strategic equation, and the true number may be less than 5%. Senior managements at the remaining 90 – 95% plus:

a.) Want to become more customer-centric, but can’t find their way out of traditional, company-centric planning approaches
b.) Are still playing the we-them power game
c.) Let financial planning drive their companies
d.) Are content to spout lots of “customer-this, customer that” bromides
e.) Believe letting middle management implement CRM or CEM or Social CRM or whatever new fad is out there will get them close enough to customers?

Unfortunately, customer-centricity starts with aligning strategies with customers through effective customer-centric planning processes – before it moves through aligning process with strategies and technology with process. Lacking well thought-out, customer-responsive business strategies, companies can’t move off the dime in customer-centricity terms – unless their CEO is Jeff Bezos, Fred Smith, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs or someone else with customer-centricity so baked in their brain they can skip planning and go straight to execution.

Why do we have this problem and what should we do about it?

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. I’m constantly amazed at how Customer Service means “a helpline” for most businesses. It’s a bog challenge to switch from org-centric to customer-centrid operations, but you have to have an advocate at the top who recognises the need. They seem to be few and far between, and not the typical product of MBA courses. Maybe the education is part of the problem? Maybe lack of will? After all, it’s a big root and branch change to take on.

    From the other side of the fence I think part of the problem is how the solution is sold. I consider myself a Service Designer, selling a method that puts customer experience at the centre of the organisations evolution. But not clear within the customer / service industry how SD differs from any other domain. Must make finding a solution complicated.

  2. It is amazing that egos and perceived job security seem to take center stage in corporate America to make decisions. If companies utilized the customer feedback they collect and empowered employees to make decisions and add to the decision making process, instead of Wall Street quarterly returns, the rest is easy – Continued Brand Loyalty and Profits.


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