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One of the oldest myths in business is that every customer is a valuable customer. Even in the age of high-tech data collection, many businesses don't realize that some of their customers are deeply unprofitable, and that simply doing business with them is costing them money. In many places, it's typical that the top 20 percent of customers are generating almost all the profit while the bottom 20 percent are actually destroying value. Managers are missing tremendous opportunities if they are not aware which of their customers are truly profitable and which are not.
According to Larry Selden and Geoff Colvin, there is a way to fix this problem: manage your business not as a collection of products and services but as a customer portfolio. Selden and Colvin show readers how to analyze customer data to understand how you can get the most out of your most critical customer segments. The authors reveal how some companies (such as Best Buy and Fidelity Investments) have already moved in this direction, and what customer-centric strategies are likely to become widespread in the coming years.
For corporate leaders, middle managers, or small business owners, this book offers a breakthrough plan to delight their best customers and drive shareowner value.
Conventional wisdom holds that the customer is always king (or queen), but not all customers are created equal, write authors Selden (a consultant) and Colvin (a Fortune editor-at-large); in fact, some may be hurting your business (e.g., people who phone customer service lines thousands of times in a single year). So, they argue, it's smart strategy to figure out which customers are most valuable to you, and to lavish your attentions on them. The authors point out a number of companies that are reorganizing how they operate, like Best Buy and Toronto-based Royal Bank. The tone is exceedingly businesslike; sans colorful narratives or rhetorical flourishes, the authors march stiffly through the points they want to make. It's unclear sometimes how behavior should be altered by this philosophy: should you, for example, refuse to do business altogether with unprofitable customers? But the book's central thesis manages that rare mix of being both surprising and eminently reasonable.