The Customer Revolution

By Patricia B. Seybold, Ronni T. Marshak

It used to be that developing customer relationships in a mass-market economy didn't matter. All a successful company had to do was make products that people generally liked--build it and they would come. Patricia Seybold thinks those days are long gone.

Thanks to the Internet, customers matter more than ever, and companies that don't get it simply won't make it. In The Customer Revolution she writes, "For the first time in the history of modern business, it's now cost-effective for companies to establish relationships with each and every customer who wants us to know him."

Seybold outlines the principles of the "customer economy" and looks at 14 companies, including Charles Schwab, Snap-on, and Hewlett-Packard, who are in the process of refocusing their businesses to meet customer needs and expectations by measuring and running their businesses on metrics such as customer satisfaction, acquisition, retention rates, and wallet share. In the customer economy, building brand means more than creating a clever logo--it requires creating an "experience that your customers love."

She offers up a set of practices--what she calls a "Customer Flight Deck"--that allows companies to monitor and tune the success of their customer contacts. Customer relationships are so important, Seybold believes that a new metric of corporate reporting will emerge alongside profit and loss, return on assets, and P/E ratios--one she calls a "Customer Value Index" designed to give investors the means to measure a company's performance by looking at the present and future value of its customer base.

As with her previous book, The Customer Revolution should be required reading for managers at any company--old or new--who are assessing the real impact of the Internet on their businesses. Highly recommended. --Harry C. Edwards

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