Stephen Beck, founder and managing partner of consulting firm cg42, has spent more than 20 years advising corporate leaders on the fundamentals of customer-centric growth. He has led major transformations in the financial services, technology, and telecommunications spaces.

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I invited Stephen to Marketing Smarts to talk about customer frustration and how businesses can turn that negative fact of corporate life into something amazing that thrills customers and helps grow the business.

Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:

Marketing consultants could learn a thing or two from the FBI (03:15): "I think, actually, when you think about the rigor that goes into an investigation, and you think about the rigor that needs to go into the assessment of a business and the situation that it's in, the two are very analogous. Obviously, the topic (and the subject area) is very different, but the discipline and approach that's required to do these things properly is really critical."

To create something amazing for your clients, assess their vulnerabilities first (04:46): "Most of the traditional approaches (to measuring the success of a business) have been very focused on assessing the positives, and understanding...where delivery is at its best. And most marketers are really, today, challenged with understanding the frustrations that customers are experiencing: how to deal with them and how to fix them, and certainly, understanding the frustrations and the vulnerabilities that your competitors' customers are experiencing, is critical information to define how you move forward with the business strategically."

Frustrating your customers, though not ideal, isn't the end of the world. (06:42): "We are human, and the institutions and business that we create are also sort of human in their derivation. Part of the essence of being human is that humans make mistakes. Not everything is perfect. If you understand those imperfections and develop a culture that's focused on fixing them—not finding blame and assessing and determining who will be held responsible, but instead, embracing those imperfections, finding them, consistently focusing on solving them and bringing new services, new offerings, new products, new experiences to market that address the problems that customers experience, you change the way customers think about you."

For more information, visit, or follow Stephen on Twitter: @beckvision.

Stephen and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

Music credit: Noam Weinstein.

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