Sometimes it feels as if business would be so much better without customers.

We could go about our internal meetings without problems, set-up strategies that we like and understand, decide where the funds should go… life would be so easy…. No customer, no cry (to paraphrase a famous song).

Of course, that scenario conveniently forgets that it is the customer who pays our bills!

There is no doubt that the customer should be at the center of every business strategy. And yet it often seems as if focusing on them is an afterthought, a single paragraph in a business plan, nothing more. (It's the almost-famous “Them” and “Us” strategy.)

Lets' face it: while the title of this article would make any marketer cringe, it is still common practice to make decisions without the customer in mind… and still be successful.

Thinking about the customer is not a natural function of many businesses—or even marketing, even though the latter's reason for being is its understanding of the customer. After all, isn't marketers' favorite discussion about how well they understand the customer, often better than anyone else in the company?

Unfortunately, even that is eroding. In today's fragmented business place, customer interaction and customer treatment could easily be managed by a branch manager, a Web site, a call system, a customer relationship manager or a customer relationship management (CRM) solution. If you add a touch of business analytics, you will soon realize that many marketers already have little impact on customers.

Remember the 4 Ps?

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Frederic Moraillon ( heads SAS Customer Intelligence in Singapore, where he focuses on helping organizations develop their customer intelligence strategies to increase revenue.