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Anticipate: Knowing What Customers Need Before They Do by Jeff Tobe, Bill Thomas

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Chapter 3

Not All Customers Are Good Customers

  • Segment your customer base to sharpen and guide your focus
  • Realize the ultimate goal is mutual profitability
  • Start the customer focus journey (the Customer Focus Maturity Model®)

Effective implementation of a customer-focused strategy takes courage to start, persistence to stay the course despite setbacks, and an unyielding drive to achieve Level III’s mutual profitability outcome. It is not for the faint of heart and it’s not the right approach for all of your customers. To put this last comment in perspective, let’s look at three typically held beliefs about customer focus and what’s wrong with each of them.

1. The customer is always right.
2. Whatever it takes—keep them satisfied.
3. All customers are important.

First of all, customers are not always right. They are just as capable of making a mistake as any supplier is. Whether they agree or not, they are also partly responsible for ensuring the customer–supplier relationship is successful. Part of a sustained successful relationship is continually educating each other on what each side needs from the other to make it work, and how each can continually improve the efficacy of their respective roles. That means—at times—letting each other know when they’ve made a mistake or have caused a misstep in the process.

While most companies totally get it when it comes to getting tough feedback from their customers, most of them are uncomfortable with the reverse—providing tough feedback ...

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