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Customer Closeness

Beyond Lagniappes

By on May 30, 2012

Lagniappes are fine, but we can't stop there. Customer 3D organizations operate in a different dimension: one in which unexpected thank-you’s are a given. These organizations are treating their customers as equals and proactively designing new services that anticipate customer needs in addition to token gifts.

Customer 3D Creates ‘Us’ Thinking

By on April 4, 2012

Instead of a customer-as-the-boss mindset, Customer 3D organizations partner with their customers. Bosses are limiting. Collaborating on an equal basis is unlimited.

Not Questioning Enough

By on February 15, 2012

Companies must open windows to new service design ideas in an effort to connect with customers. Leaders in high-performing organizations must aggressively question “not broken” processes that appear to be “working” in order to discover how they can be further improved. Today’s approach to customer relations has to go beyond an “absence of problems” mentality to embrace innovation in order to stay ahead of the competition.

Black Friday Revisited

By on December 7, 2011

Black Friday techniques are built on short-term tactics that primarily benefit the seller. A customer-centered mindset thinks differently. It focuses on long-term connections that are grounded in making customers more committed to maintaining a strong relationship with their suppliers.

The Time Spent on Customers

By on September 14, 2011

Customer 3D™ businesses focus on identifying new opportunities. Whereas product-centered companies during “down” times ask customers for additional orders on existing products, Customer 3D™ organizations look for new products and processes for customers.

Customer 3D™ Action Verbs

By on September 7, 2011

“The future of search is verbs.” Bill Gates made this comment to Esther Dyson to describe the transition to a new mindset, in which, as the world becomes more familiar with high-powered search engines, people “aren’t looking for nouns or information; they are looking for action.” (quoted in Curation Nation). The same concept is true […]

A Lot of People Can Sing…

By on August 17, 2011

But we don’t pay attention until they are really good. Exceptionally customer-centered organizations have an energy that attracts faithful customers who have noticed what makes them different and rewarded them with go-nowhere-else loyalty. Customers show up because of the company and the product is no longer part of the decision. They already know the product is going to be good.

Customers’ Perceptions of You

By on December 8, 2010

There is a pattern in all of the four pictures of Matisse, which allows the viewer to recognize him. Likewise, in organizations there is a wholeness, which is recognizable by customers. This wholeness is the real nature that determines everything about the organization.

Superficial Relationships

By on December 1, 2010

Customer-centered organizations create a deeper relationship with customers. By moving beyond a product-centric, “A to B” mentality, their culture of continuous improvement for all of their customers builds a more substantive relationship. They are legendary, rather than ordinary.

Sharing with Customers

By on October 27, 2010

A culture of sharing reinforces the belief that you and your customers have a common purpose. And this spirit of collaboration translates into a message that these customers can trust you to work on their behalf. It is empowering, both for employees and customers.

The Milkshake Mistakes

By on September 29, 2010

By being customer-centric, you will you position yourself to notice things that you hadn’t noticed before. Your creativity will increase and so will your proactivity in designing new ideas for customers.

What Does WOW Mean?

By on September 22, 2010

In order to WOW customers, change your culture from supplier-focused to customer-focused. Thinking like a customer will make it clear to everyone what WOW means.

Making Sense to Customers

By on September 15, 2010

Making sense begins with the recognition that meaningful work involves finding a better solution for the customer. If the old structure was static, the new version is metamorphic: in readiness to become something else if that is what helps it connect with its customers.

Visual Thinking

By on September 8, 2010

All organizations should have a clean, clear vision of how they look to their customers—a 3D version that includes every aspect of the relationship. It doesn’t just happen. The organization must create a system to “shine a light” on itself in order to be useful to the customer.

Customer Focus Leads to Personal Elevation

By on August 25, 2010

When the core value of an organization rests on what is best for the customer, a culture is created in which employees are part of a group that has “clicked” by being customer-centered.

Don’t Paint by the Numbers

By on June 30, 2010

Formulaic lists about how to succeed in business are too prescriptive. Instead, go back to the basic needs that your customers are asking to be filled and work forward from that point. Produce intelligence that leads to meaningful answers about how the customer will prosper.

Customer Myopia

By on June 23, 2010

Most supplier-centric organizations rationalize that they know what customers need. What these companies perceive to be needs fall far short of what customers want. Customer-centric organizations look for new opportunities to offer to their customers, rather than waiting for them to be asked for.

Transforming Your Customers

By on May 12, 2010

Customer-centricity has a benefit that most organizations don’t fully understand and don’t fully utilize. It is understanding, at a deep level, what your ideal customers do, how they behave, and the personality traits that you want to encourage in them.

Art or Science?

By on May 5, 2010

All companies have functional support activities which should be rules-driven and designed to reduce variation. Connecting with customers at the more advanced Levels 2 and 3 must be humanistic, designed to create fresh ideas for customers, and consequently requires more art.

Beautiful Evidence

By on March 24, 2010

The Customer-Centric Index™ measures closeness with external customers and strength of relationships with internal customers. It's geared to focus on silo-busting. It's systematic and consists of highly-specific measures of the behaviors that experience has shown will make organizations more customer-centric.

Can We Prove Customer-Centered Is Better?

By on March 17, 2010

Why should any supplier-centric organization switch to being customer-centric? It’s not difficult to imagine the arguments against the change: “Customer-centricity is an abstract idea. It involves a culture change. We prefer pragmatic results to ideology. Show us the benefits.”

Here's a look at the "Why" of customer-centricity.

Keeping Customers

By on March 10, 2010

There should be a process to regularly review performances for "good customers" rather than waiting for them to call in frustration, or, even worse, to leave without calling.

Keeping Pace with Customers

By on March 3, 2010

Make sure that your organization is prepared for change by putting some customer-centered monitors in place that will condition everyone to look for new ways by questioning the old ways. Set up a process to evaluate change on customers’ terms, not yours. It will be a great platform to start discussions of ways to strengthen your organization by consistently looking for ways to outperform.

Discovering a Better Way for Your Customers

By on February 24, 2010

Customer-centricity will not happen unless your organization is curious about customers and what they will need in the future. Create a culture that is continuously looking for ways to learn more about customers. Don’t become complacent. Be an explorer.

Is Engagement the Answer?

By on February 10, 2010

The word "engagement" with customers is used too casually. In a customer-centered view, you would not “win” and “keep” customers, but rather, cooperate with them as partners for a single purpose.

The Best Fit with Your Customers

By on February 3, 2010

Value equates to how the individual customer feels about doing business with you. It is your “fit” with their needs and it is embodied in an emotional connection. Execution involves deep understanding and a high degree of flexibility because “fit” is judged by your delivery in its broadest, most proactive, sense.

Customer-Centered Decision Trees

By on January 20, 2010

Default procedures offer companies the chance to save their customers time and money, and help them maneuver through complexity. In every process, however, leaders should imagine themselves in the shoes of the people they serve.

Never Stand Still

By on January 13, 2010

No organization can afford to stand still. The best way to avoid inertia is to think like a customer. Because innovation is on a continuum, companies must constantly evaluate where they are.

Timeless Customer Connections

By on December 30, 2009

There is a fundamental quality of great customer relations that many organizations have lost. The timeless system for customers is not going back, but beyond what exists today. The new paradigm represents congruence with your customers. It is authentic.

A Time for Reflection

By on December 23, 2009

“How can I make life easier for my customers (current and future)?" The answers will help your organization dramatically change its services in ways that will ultimately amaze your present customers and make new customers want to come to you.

Customer-Centric Managers

By on October 28, 2009

A few passionate managers can change the culture in an organization by leading their team toward customer-centricity. Executive leadership must set the tone and direction for customer-centricity. But middle managers are in the best position to know when to take off the training wheels and make change happen.

An Early Warning System

By on October 7, 2009

“There’s no such thing as good news or bad news. There’s only fast news and slow news.” Fast knowledge happens within organizations that are connected and proactively communicating with their customers. Every organization should have an early warning system. The best one is built around closeness with your customers.

Right-Brain Business Goals (II)

By on July 15, 2009

Right-brain thinking will not take you to the next level without distinct business goals. The right-brain approach has always been a metaphor for intuitive, innovative, big-picture decision-making. With specific goals, this underutilized perspective will accelerate your business growth and customer commitment. Every successful organization needs specific customer-centered goals. These go far beyond narrowly thinking of […]

Designing a Better Future

By on July 1, 2009

When I conduct client workshops I often ask participants this question: What could your competitors be developing for your customers right now that you don't currently offer? We know it is impossible to draw an accurate picture of the future. As Yogi Berra said, "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future." But we continue […]

The Last Question First

By on June 24, 2009

Alan Webber's Rules of Thumb is an absolute must-read. It is quintessential to leading your organization through the next day, week, year and beyond. It is game-changing, but simple. It is practical and inspiring at the same time. And it weighs in solidly on thinking like a customer. For example, Webber's Rule #3 is ‘Ask the […]

Be Notable

By on June 17, 2009

The greatest challenge of escaping the sameness of your product or service is to stay ahead of what your direct competition offers. Adjust the space that you operate in. That is, design and sustain a service that is truly different from the rest of your market segment. The key, of course, is to make certain […]

Loyalty Programs are Changing

By on June 10, 2009

Last week, I attended the Loyalty Expo, a showcase of the prominent suppliers using incentive rewards programs to drive their business growth. The good news is that some of the companies that are using these points programs are looking at new ways to drive loyalty by becoming more relevant and customer-centered. The old models are […]

Context is a Big Advantage (Part II)

By on June 3, 2009

Here's the reason that you want context from your customers: There is no greater source of new opportunities. Forget what you thought you knew about being customer-focused. The new business model is built around a culture in which employees, as Dev Patnaik says, "possess a shared and intuitive vibe...that helps them see new opportunities faster […]

Context is a Big Advantage (Part I)

By on May 27, 2009

We have all experienced the paradox that "the more successful a company becomes, the more likely it is to become removed from customer segments." (The Open-Empathy Organization, Dev Patnaik and Peter Mortensen, from Rotman Magazine, Spring 2009). If the phrase "taken out of context" has negative overtones (as it should) of misquoting, bad information and […]

The Age of Engage

By on May 20, 2009

The next great opportunity to drive customer closeness is optimizing the recognition of your most loyal customers. We live in the "age of engage", so success depends on developing an individualized relationship with important upper tier clients and an environment that encourages outstanding performance for this key subgroup of very committed customers. Ask yourself this […]

Great Performances

By on February 18, 2009

When you go out to a show or another event, you expect a great performance. What makes you think your customers don't expect that from you every day? My wife and I enjoyed a 7-day cruise recently. Part of the entertainment consisted of performances by the Second City Comedy Group. In addition to rehearsed sketches, […]


By on February 11, 2009

Why do satisfaction surveys have such a bad name? Because very little is ever done with the majority of them. And why is nothing done with them? Because the results are not actionable. Larry Bossidy in Confronting Reality: Doing What Matters to Get Things Right warns against shallow, "one-size-fits-all" surveys that are typically designed by the […]


By on February 4, 2009

When a plant is put in a window, over time it begins to lean toward the light. In the same manner, generous, abundant actions by businesses create a positive energy source that attracts customers. These suppliers are viewed as legendary, not ordinary.

Can I Have Your Customers?

By on January 28, 2009

If a competitor asked you this question, your emphatic answer would be "No Way!" Customers are assets. You wouldn't give up your computers or manufacturing equipment, would you? Well, now is the optimum time to upgrade your strategy with a serious focus on thinking like your customers. In these severe economic times, the competition is […]


By on January 7, 2009

Your customers, by definition, are outside the "four walls" of your organization. Progressive, successful organizations, however, look for opportunities to invite customers to participate in their internal activities. It is a remarkable way to clearly validate customer-focus to all of your employees. It is also a way to inject new thinking that otherwise may not […]

How Did You Do It?

By on December 24, 2008

Every company during the holidays will be reaching out to its customers and thanking them for the relationship they have had during the year. At this thoughtful time of the year, it is valuable to take a true assessment of your success. But as you reflect on what you have accomplished in the year, it […]

Customer Details

By on November 26, 2008

Customer focus does not happen offhandedly. It requires leadership and emphasis on details to stay effective. Many organizations fail or drift because they believe it is easy, they take it for granted and they don't deliver the concentrated efforts needed to be successful. Donald Keough, who was President and COO of Coca-Cola Company at the […]

What Can Your Customers Accomplish?

By on November 19, 2008

There's a difference between providing your customers only with the product or service that they expect and helping them achieve what they care about. How would it feel to offer your customers something that didn't cost you anything, but that delivered to them a powerful sense of accomplishment? CP Rochester in Rochester, NY knows all […]

Inspire Your Customers

By on October 29, 2008

It is much better to have inspired customers than simply satisfied ones. Metroparks of the Toledo (OH) Area understands this relationship with its customers extremely well. It has a Board of Directors' mandate to preserve land, so if the organization has $1 left to spend, that's where it is invested. Yet customers may not always […]

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