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Treating customers right, even if it means firing them

I saw this post by Seth Godin today - Treating different customers differently - and noticed that the Analytical Engine had a post on the same topic - Firing Customers - and it made me think about treating customers "right" and being "customer-centric". It is a common fallacy that being "customer-centric" means always doing what a customer wants. In fact it means matching your actions to the customer as precisely as possible and determining (and executing) the best next action. For instance, Seth pointed out that the 1,000 Sprint customers fired "weren't delinquent in their bills, but they were calling in and complaining approximately 25 times a month". Having identified this segment of customers you need to decide what the best action is. If they were intensely profitable customers, perhaps you might decide to always route them straight to a call specialist. If, on the other hand, they were not profitable (say as a result of the cost of their calls), then the right action might well be to fire them as Sprint did. This is still customer-centric - these are not happy customers so they (and Sprint) are in a bad relationship that should be ended!

Now it would be useful, as the folks at Analytical Engine said "to determine whether these customers had anything in common (type of problem they were calling for, expectation setting at sales channel etc.) which led them to call more often". Perhaps there is some underlying cause that could be addressed but perhaps there is not. Perhaps they are just difficult people. Using analytics to understand your customers and then handling them appropriately is the key and, if you have large numbers of customers, you are going to need to adopt enterprise decision management as being customer-centric means being decision-centric.

I have blogged about EDM and customer-centricity before and Montgomery Research recently published a paper on Smart Enough Customer Decisions that focuses in on this also.


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