Increasingly, corporate leaders in all industries are seeing the value of making their organizations customer-centric. What can customer-centricity mean to your company? How do you determine your company's potential? And what must you do to create, lead and maintain a truly customer-focused organization?

This four-part series of solutions-oriented articles by the four members of the Business Authors Leadership Alliance (BALA) demonstrates how techniques in strategy assessment, innovation, ROI analytics and organizational performance are integrated to leverage the discipline of capturing and applying customer insight to profitably grow your business.

In a recent study, Forrester Research found that over 90% of the senior executives interviewed said that having a single, fully integrated corporate view of customers across the enterprise—which we can call customer-centricity—was either critical to their organization (44%) or very important (48%). Yet only 2% think their organization has achieved full integration and 10% think their organization has achieved partial integration.

How can companies work toward achieving their desired goal of becoming a customer- centric organization?

Our process involves the following four phases:

  1. Identify key strategic customer-centric opportunities and challenges. 

  2. Focus staff innovation and creativity to develop solutions for these challenges. 

  3. Ensure and refine profitability potential of new initiatives. 

  4. Address leadership and performance issues to ensure that the company can meet its objectives around these challenges.

Each of these four phases involves five action items, as shown in the following chart:

Each article in the four-part series will cover one phase of the BALA integrated process, including a structured example for illustration. This article (Part 1) will cover the five steps in Phase 1: Identify Strategic Opportunities and Challenges.

Example: Midwest Telecom

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Michael Lowenstein is Senior Vice-President, Customer Management Center of Excellence, NOP World and author of Customer Retention (ASQ Press, 1994), The Customer Loyalty Pyramid (Quorum, 1997), Customer WinBack (Jossey-Bass, 2001), and One Customer, Divisible (Texere, 2004). Michael can be reached at or 856-833-9449.