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April 11, 2005

Excerpts: Critical Choices

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 3:39 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Critical Choices
The critical choices are the choices every company must face in order to decide if it is ready to become customer focused. These are not choices in the sense that you either do them or not. This is exactly the mistake many companies have made. If you decide to become customer focused, you must make these choices. They are not optional. Some companies made some of these choices. But rarely did a company cover allthe choices.The critical choices listed below will be discussed in the following chapters. Each chapter will be dedicated to a choice and will explain the full scope of the choice and the right way to make it.
  • What is the role of the customer in our existence: a means to an end or the endgame?

  • Which customers do we neglect? Are we taking every customer willing to pay?

  • What defines our total experience? Are we a silo function focused organization, with each function owning a piece of the customer, or are we a complete, holistic customer organization? What kind of relationships do we seek? Are we in the self-serving, efficient, transaction realm, or do we seek a generous, long-term relationship?

  • How do we change ourselves to avoid the silo-based customer trap? How do we assume complete customer responsibility?

  • Do we employ functional robots or passionate evangelists? What people should we employ to deliver the best customer experience?
  • On the question of dialogue and feedback, do we really care? Do we have the willingness and mechanism to listen?

  • What do our measurements say about us? Do we encourage playing by the rules or breaking them?

  • How long do we milk our products? Is innovation the exception or the rule?

The ultimate commitmenta deep, customer-focused strategyis a mutual, lifetime commitment.
In the long history of pursuing the customer, some companies have actively made some of these choices, but very few have made them all. Addressing some of these decisions and ignoring the rest is equivalent to being on a diet only between 5 and 9 in the morning and then allowing yourself to go wild with your eating in the rest of the day. Only complete commitment can deliver the desired results. Only complete commitment to eliminating the Fatal Mistakes and actively making the complete series of customer choices can result in a successful customer strategy. Customers will deliver their full financial and emotional commitment only to those companies that will reciprocate. Trying to compromise on the commitment will result in a similar response from the customer. There is no such thing as 35% loyalty; it is either 100% loyalty or none at all. This is how the customer is watching your companys choices and actions. Customer loyalty and long-term commitment will be earned by companies that make 100% commitment and do not attempt to compromise.
The next few chapters detail the required commitments as expected and perceived by the customer. When companies wear customer lenses and assume the customers perspective, they will be able to start making the right choices.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.