A Word About Change From America’s “Cowboy Philosopher”


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America’s “cowboy philosopher,” Will Rogers, really understood change. Among his countless, priceless quotes is:

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.

The same applies if you move too slowly. The quote so aptly describes where so many companies sit on the road to customer-centricity. They head out into the fast lane, then stop or slow to a crawl. For example:

-How many companies have developed new, customer-centric business strategies—then neglected to redesign process to execute these strategies?

-How many companies have redesigned their processes—then failed to provide sufficient enabling technology?

-How many companies have redesigned their customer service function: focusing on one call resolutions; empowering staff; and providing more training—then breathed a huge sigh of relief and failed to continue on to the next step, addressing whatever issues are triggering service calls?

-How many companies are generating scads of inquiries over the web—then failing to implement the lead management processes necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff and track sales results?

In each case, lots and lots. And we could go on and on with the list.
So often we plan new initiatives, but fail to identify what else has to change to realize the anticipated benefits. Why? To contain the scope of initiatives; to avoid changing too much; to accomplish something new quickly; lots of reasons. Unfortunately, the majority of companies that try to become customer-centric stop or slow on the track—many because they only plan to go far enough to feel they’ve “done enough.” As in only making a token effort for show.

Too bad (for them) these companies don’t see what’s coming. Taking these half-steps leaves them extremely vulnerable to faster moving, bolder organizations. Think about the old “turtle and hair adage.” Then replace the rabbit with a fast moving freight train. Do you want to be that turtle?


  1. Very nicely said! Another staple is that customer-centricity requires listening to your customers. Yet, in today’s world that requires listening to customers across the many marketing channels that their interactions with companies span. In other words, multichannel metrics, not just web analytics, and not just direct marketing analytics.

    Yet, how many companies integrate metrics across channels, you could ask? Very few. A survey by Forrester of 108 database marketers in 2006 found that 83% did not have web behavior data in their databases.

    Granted, this kind of measurement and marketing automation are by no means the only way of achieving customer-centricity. I am 100% on board when Bob Thompson points out that the customer experience is about more than the interactions that can be automated.

    But … employees cannot be everywhere and many interactions DO take place with automated touch points (emails, website, direct mail, advertisement of all kinds). So … time to close the mulichannel metrics gap.

    Disclosure: Such metrics are my pet peeve since I just completed writing the book on the subject. See multichannelmetrics.com for more.



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