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Serving Everyone Means Serving No One—and Other Truths About Customer-Centricity

by Lisa Leslie Henderson, Larry Weber  |  
July 24, 2014

If we really want to be customer-centric, we have to be willing to turn customers away.

It sounds antithetical, I know. After working so hard to get people's attention, turning them away seems crazy. But if we want to pursue a solid business strategy, that is what it takes. Even the largest of companies can't afford to chase every dollar—only the dollars that align with their business strategy.

"You have to figure out which customer you want to delight and... become world-class experts in what delights them," explains Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter. "And then all those strays that wander into our lives, we just have to be nice and be polite, but that is not who we want to serve. It is very hard to do."

Strategy has always been about making choices, but in the age of the empowered customer, it has become increasingly challenging because our options have grown exponentially.

Serving Everyone Means Serving No One

Meeting every need of every customer may sound customer-centric, but that approach often leads to not serving any customers well.

In a time when competitive advantage is derived from remarkable customer experience, an "all things to all people" strategy leaves a company vulnerable to any competitor that can offer any segment of its customer base a better experience.

What True Customer-Centricity Is  

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Lisa Leslie Henderson is an author, a teacher, and an advisor. She is also co-author of The Digital Marketer: Ten New Skills You Must Learn to Stay Relevant and Customer-Centric.

LinkedIn: Lisa Leslie Henderson

Twitter: @ljlhendo

Larry Weber is chairman and CEO of Racepoint Global, an advanced marketing services agency. He is co-author of The Digital Marketer: Ten New Skills You Must Learn to Stay Relevant and Customer-Centric.

LinkedIn: The Larry Weber

Twitter: @TheLarryWeber

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