Customer Genius

Becoming a customer-centric business

“Hello, I am your customer. Do you see the world like I do? It’s simple really. Start with me and everything else follows. Together we can do extraordinary things …

Customers are now in control of our markets, demanding that we do business on their terms. Their expectations are high, and loyalty is rare. They are individual and emotional, well-informed and highly organized. They know what they want, and only accept the best.

“Customer Genius” introduces a 10 step blueprint for building a customer-centric business; proving that the right customer strategies, based on deeper customer insight, driving more compelling propositions and distinctive experiences, can engage those ‘wonderful people’ we call customers.

  1. Outside in. Power has shifted to customers, and business must learn to think and act from the outside in.
  1. Bigger picture. Customers see their challenges and solutions more holistically, without sectors or categories.
  1. Less is more. Better to attract and retain fewer, more profitable customers than to try to serve everyone.
  1. Deep diving. Use more personal immersion to discover what factors really drive attitudes and behaviours.
  1. Get personal. People are more irrational and emotional. Focus on the energisers, not just the essentials.
  1. Pull don’t push. Don’t sell products, engage people on what matters to them – where, when and how they want.
  1. Work together. Collaborative, help people to solve problems and achieve more with co-created solutions.
  1. Intuition rules. Throw away the rule book, and enable customer service people to be human and responsive.
  1. Word of mouth. Customers are more loyal to each other than any business, so harness the power of advocacy.
  1. Future results. Customer metrics are lead indicators, whilst financials only tell you about the past.

Customer Genius is the ultimate “customer” book … bringing together customer strategy, customer insights, customer propositions, customer experiences and customer relationships. It includes 30 practical tools ranging from market strategy to brand building, value propositions and social networks, plus 50 case studies including

Air Asia … It symbolises the new entrepreneurial spirit of south-east Asia. CK Pralahad describes the “bottom of the pyramid” as a $5 trillion opportunity. In 2001 Tony Fernandez promptly cashed in his AOL stock options and bought the Kuala Lumpar-based airline. Today it is one of the world’s fastest growing and most profitable airlines, connecting the bustling capitals of the region. Air Asia succeeds by targeting some of the most populous markets in the world with a low-cost business model that also delivering service to match that of nearby Singapore Airlines. In 2008 it became the first long-haul low-cost airline, and Richard Branson was so impressed he took a 20% stake.

Amazon … seeks to be “the most customer-centric business on Earth”. Jeff Bezos believes that focus on customers rather than competitors leads to more certain and sustainable growth. However since 1995 his focus was not just selling books but on providing customers with “convenience and speed” in buying almost anything – from toys and music to travel and groceries. In 12 years, revenues have grown from $12million to $12 billion. Innovations such as “look inside” sampling and “one-click” purchases, delivering tracking and self publishing, stayed focused on the customer benefits. As did the radical decision to allow competitive retailers to sell through the site, enabling customers to compare prices and ensure that they get the very best deal.

Zipcars … thinks and works from the outside in, developing an innovative business model that focuses on cost and convenience first, congestion and carbon emissions second. It targets students and young people as early adopters. Not only Zipcars making people rethink the need for car ownership, but you can instantly have the coolest car to impress your friends. Becoming a “zipster” is easy, register your details online with a membership fee of $50 a year, and then whenever you need a car – for 20 minutes or a month – just spot a Z-space, zap the door with your phone, turn the key, and off you go. From San Francisco to Berlin you will find Zipcars positioned around the streets, located by GPS on your phone, waiting to be driven.

Zopa … is an online money exchange, enabling people to lend and borrow money from others around the world. Peer-to-peer lending is simple and direct. The two parties find an interest rate which they agree upon, ensure each others credit worthiness through peer reviews, and then click to transact.  Banks used to thrive on an antiquated model of taking people’s savings and lending it to others. Banks were intermediaries who eventually becoming too greedy, with its sub-prime loans and exotic derivatives running out of control. Zopa, founded in 2005, recognised that there was a different way – that networked technologies could connect people directly with people.

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“Customer Genius” Contents:

Track 1:  Hello!  

“I am your customer … “

Track 2:  My world 

Wonderful People, Global Village, Customer Tribes
Facebook , Air Asia, Banyan Tree

Track 3: My agenda

Emotional World, Customer Kaleidoscopes, The Customer Agenda
Baidu, Stenders Soap Factory, Camper Shoes

Track 4: My terms 

Customer Power, Pull not Push, Outside in, Inside out
Livestrong, Progressive Insurance, Zipcars

Track 5: My business

The Customer-centric Business, Customer value, 10 Dimensions of the Customer Business
Amazon, Best Buy

Part 2: The Customer Business 

Dimension 1: Customer Vision

Customer Purpose, Customer Brand, Customer Alignment
Lego, Aveda, Cemex

Dimension 2: Customer Strategy 

Customer Profitability, Customer Segmentation, Customer Management
Nike Women, Club Med, Tata Motors

Dimension 3: Customer Insights

Customer Intelligence, Customer Immersion, Customer Insights
Dove Campaign for Real Beauty , H&M, Harrahs Casinos

Dimension 4: Customer Propositions

Customer Context, Customer Propositions, Customer Conversations
Whole Food Markets, Oxfam Unwrapped, Jimmy Choo

Dimension 5: Customer Solutions 

Customer Collaboration, Customer Innovation, Customer Solutions
Heinz Tomato Ketchup, Smart USA , Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Dimension 6: Customer Connections 

Customer Communication, Customer Networks, Customer Gateways
Wumart China, Zopa, Quintessentially

Dimension 7: Customer Experiences

Customer Journey, Customer Theatre, Customer Experiences
Nintendo Wii, Vom Fass, Build a Bear Workshop

Dimension 8: Customer Service 

Customer Delivery , Individualised Service , Service Recovery
Disneyland , Singapore Airlines , Ritz Carlton

Dimension 9: Customer Relationships 

Customer Partnerships, Customer Communities , Customer Advocates
Harley Davidson , The Co-operative , New Balance

Dimension 10: Customer Performance 

Value Drivers , Customer Metrics , Business Impact
Enterprise Car Rental , First Direct , GE

Part 3: The Customer Champions

Track 6: Leadership 

Inspiring People , New Business Leaders , Customer Champions
Eczacibasi , P&G , MAC Cosmetics

Track 7: Culture 

Engaging your people , Aligning people and customers , Structures, symbols and stories
Pret a Manger , Innocent Drinks , Toyota

Track 8: Transformation

Creating a customer revolution , Making change happen , Inspiration
Avon , Skoda , Virgin

Appendix: The Genius Lab

Creating a Customer Business
10 dimensions, 30 essential tools, 150 practical actions

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“Customer Genius” Extract:

“Hello!  I am your customer.

Yes, a real person, a human being.

I have my needs and wants, to get through the day, and to achieve what I must.
But I also have my hopes, dreams and ambitions.

For too long you have treated me as a name or number.
You group me into what you call a segment, or sometimes just a mass market.

But I’m not prepared to tolerate that anymore.

I am me. Don’t treat me like somebody else.

Sometimes I might be very similar to others,
but I can also be very different and discerning.

In the old world, I realise I didn’t have much choice.
I needed you more than your needed me.

But things have changed.

Now I have the power. Now I’m in control.
You need me, more than I need you.

It’s time you started doing business on my terms.

In fact, why are you actually in business?
Just to make as much money as you can, from whatever you can?

Or to make a difference, to make my life better?

I don’t mind if you make money.
If you can do something more for me, I want you to succeed too.

You’ll be able to invest in creating an even better business
With more rewards for both of us.

Why don’t you learn a bit more about me? Come and listen to what I really want.

I’d love to tell you what I’m really trying to achieve.
Not just whether or not I want your latest gadget, gizmo or gumption.

Why don’t we get together and find a way to really solve my problem?
I’d even be happy to pay more if you can really help me find the right solution.

And what about that brand of yours?
Your name, your logo, and all those pretentious advertising slogans?

They’re all about you, and how great you are.
Actually, Im more interested in me, and what you can do for me.

Start thinking about my world.

Don’t sell me travel tickets, help me explore the world.
Don’t sell me running shoes, help me to run a personal best.
Don’t sell me potted plants, help me to create a magical garden.

Stop bombarding me with your smug (but highly creative, you tell me) campaigns.
Telling me what you want to sell, when and how you want to tell me.

I’m not here just to prop up your sales targets.
I have got a life you know. I will buy things, but in my own time, on my terms.

Worst of all are all those unsolicited mail shots and phone calls.
They interrupt me and frustrate me. And eventually make me hate you.

When I do want something, I expect it to be easy.

Come to me, or to places convenient for me.
Rather than making me go to places convenient for you.
And at times to suit me.

I expect what I’ve seen online to be in your stores, or to be available by phone.
And to be able to take it back to any of your places, if I don’t like it.

But I want you to be open and honest about what the deal is.
None of those hidden clauses or additional costs.

Sometimes I wonder if you’re trying to trick me, and whether I can really trust you.

And when I do decide to buy something from you, please don’t call me Sir or Madam.
I’m me.

Don’t just follow a process or a script. Try and learn something about me.

And whilst we’re on the subject of stereotypes, please don’t say goodbye
with one of those fake “have a nice day” smiles,
which I know you have already done a thousand times today already.

If I can get any book or music delivered to my door in 24 hours
Then why shouldn’t I expect a new car, a new washing machine, and new home to be just as quick?

And if you treat me with you the best service when I’m a big cheese at work
Then I don’t expect to come back later and be treated like trash as an individual.

Treat me well as an individual and I will tell all my friends how good you are
And I might even switch to you as a corporate customer too.

Treat me as a human being. And be a yourself, not a corporate clone.

I know you get rewarded for satisfying me. But frankly I expect much more than that.
I demand 100% satisfaction, and 100% of that so-called delight too.

Every time I talk to your people. Every time I experience anything to do with you.
It should be right, it should be excellent, it should be perfect.

However I don’t want the same every time. Life’s too short and a bit boring.
To be honest, I’d sometimes like you to surprise me!

Which brings me to something that a friend of mine tells me that you care about a lot…

Whether I really want to come back again. And do. And buy more. And tell others.
So you give me a plastic card. With something like a 1% discount.

Hmmm. To be honest I think loyalty is something that has to work both ways.
If you trust me, care for and do more for me. I might just do likewise.

But a relationship is perhaps asking too much of me.
Do I really want a relationship with a big anonymous company? I think not.

I know you invested millions in those customer relationship management systems.
But all I get is yet more pieces of direct mail. About what and when you want.

I’d much prefer to get to know other people who share my passions.
For travelling. Or running. Or gardening. Real people like me.

The best thing you could do is help me build relationships with other people in my world.
Help us to share our experience and opinions, even about you.
Help us to share our ideas and interests, and to do what we love most.

I’m then happy to buy your products. And delighted to be part of your community.
And you might even find the things I say and share, are valuable to you too.

Surely measuring how strongly I feel about you, and intend to do more with you
Are much better, forward-looking indicators of your success, than your financial history.

And one final thing about people – the real people, the human beings who work for you.
I know they work incredibly hard, but I wonder what life is like for them

So what makes them tick? Want to do more? To even surprise me?

I want to support a company that cares about its own people too. It cares about who makes its products, and the impact it has on people all around the world. Because I bet they care a lot more about me as a person, than me as a product.

If you give them time, and encourage them to know me, maybe they can create a much better solution to my needs, which I’d be happy to pay more for, and therefore better results for your business too. 

When you think about it. I know you’re a real person just like me.

But when you go to work you put your blinkers on.  You restrict yourself to some artificially defined sector. 

Whilst I see a bigger, more exciting, more connected world. You become a slave to short-term, transactional thinking. Whilst I think without limits. 

You follow conventions and prejudices of your own making. Whilst for me, everything is possible. 

It’s simple really. You’ve just got to see my world. 

Do business from the outside in. Not the inside out. 

Start with me, and everything else follows. We can be real people together. Happy supporting each other. With so much more opportunity. And more fun. 

Together we can do extraordinary things”

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“Customer Genius” Masterclass:

The two-day masterclass, issue-driven and action-driving will define what it takes in your business. It is guided by the customer blueprint,  inspired by lessons from 50 great companies around the world, and supported by 30 practical tools for implementation. 

Day 1, Part 1 : Customer Genius  … introduction

  • Your business issues and personal objectives
  • Why it matters, and what it can be like
  • Developing your personal blueprint
  • Power shifts and doing business from the outside in
  • Making it holistic – from insight to propositions, service to relationships
  • Defining the 10 dimensions of a customer-centric business 

Day 1, Part 2 : Customer Imperative … the business case for customer-centricity

  • What is the business case for customer-centricity?
  • Assets and investments, revenue and costs, risks and rewards
  • Retaining customers, doing more for them, helping them survive too
  • Balancing cost reduction with customer excellence

     New insights from leading companies: 

  • Amazon’s relentless rise by focusing on customers
  • Cemex’s mission to create a better world
  • Umpqua’s bank designed for customers
  • Quintessentially’s focus on individual service

     Practical tools for implementation: 

  • Customer vision, that defines a purpose around customers
  • Customer “power profilers” to evaluate your customer-centricity
  • Business case for customers, based on key ratios
  • Blueprint for a customer-centric business

Day 1, Part 3 : Customer Strategy … doing more to retain your best customers

  • Attracting, serving and retaining the best customers
  • How to identify and target your most profitable customers
  • The difference between an acquisition and retention-focused business
  • Implementing and managing a customer strategy for different customers

New insights from leading companies:

  • Club Med’s strategic rethink based on segmentation
  • Nike’s customer alignment that led to Nike Women
  • Best Buy’s focus on the angel not devil customers
  • Tata’s strategy on cheap cars for the emerging markets

Practical tools for implementation:

  • Customer profitability analysis to identify your “best” customers
  • Needs and value-based segmentation to focus on priorities
  • Customer strategy to align the organisation behind it
  • Customer portfolio and management to deliver profitable results

Day 1, Part 4 : Customer Insights … deep diving to understand new priorities

  • Customer drivers in an economic downturn
  • Profiling customers and defining the customer agenda
  • How to integrate all your customer information for better action
  • Deep diving for better insights and ideas in a fast changing world

New insights from leading companies:

  • Dove’s campaign for real beauty, the next phase
  • H&M’s immersion to stay on the fashion curve
  • Coca Cola’s customer needs analysis and need states
  • Zipcar’s new market for cars based on changing motivations

Practical tools for implementation:

  • Customer canvas to bring together all your information
  • Research techniques including conjoint analysis
  • Customer immersion and deep diving to get real insights
  • Energiser pyramids to define what matters most

Day 2, Part 1 : Customers as Competitive Advantage 

  • Customers as your source of advantage in an uncertain world
  • Developing propositions that engage customers in what matters most
  • Collaborating with customers to develop innovation solutions
  • Building connections through networked media, channels and partners

New insights from leading companies:

  • Avon and the power of personal retailing in emerging markets
  • Heinz Tomata Ketchup, nothing taste’s better
  • Smart USA finding new ways to sell and serve customers
  • Innocent Drinks, pure fruit, Fruitstock and woolly hats

Practical tools for implementation:

  • Customer value propositions based on customer priorities
  • Collaborative development of products and services
  • Pull communications, concierges and social networks
  • Customer inversion – doing what, when and how customers want

Day 2, Part 2 : Customer Service … delivering more compelling experiences

  • Delivering the promise in consistent, relevant and human ways 
  • How to deliver great service more efficiently and more personally 
  • Service recovery and the power of feedback and responsiveness 
  • Delivering customer experiences that enable people to do more 

     New insights from leading companies: 

  • Pret a Manger’s passion for food, and passion for people 
  • Ritz Carlton delivering excellence as it says on its credo card 
  • Progressive Insurance’s mobile service agents do more for customers 
  • Singapore Airlines, and the culture that creates an exceptional experience

Practical tools for implementation: 

  • CARER service excellence framework 
  • Individualised service and the ability to “do, know and be” 
  • Service recovery, streamlining and elaboration 
  • Customer experience, customer heartbeat, customer theatre 

Day 2, Part 3 : Customer Performance… From satisfaction to loyalty to revenue to profits 

  • Turning great service into profitable business results 
  • Building relationships that do more for customers and business 
  • Harnessing word of mouth as your driver of future business performance 
  • Customer metrics and the real value and ROI of customer investments 

     New insights from leading companies: 

  • Enterprise car rental’s customer service measurement 
  • First Direct and the potential of customer advocacy 
  • O2 and customer-centric scorecards across the business 
  • Virgin, a business where customers are ultimate performance 

     Practical tools for implementation:

  • Loyalty ladders and relationship development strategies 
  • Net promoter score, potentially the ultimate question 
  • Customer-centric scorecards, incentives and rewards 
  • Value drivers, asset valuation and economic value creation 

Day 2, Part 4 : Lights, Cameras, Action … Ready to make it happen in your business 

  • Personal action planning and prioritisation for implementation
  • Customer Toolkit with 30 tools and 150 actions
  • Q&A, summary and conclusions

“Customer Genius Live” masterclasses are open programmes, or customised for your business. All attendees receive a personal blueprint and toolkit, together a copy of the new book. Contact if you would like to attend, or to host a similar events.

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More about “Customer Genius”:

Download Creating an Extraordinary Customer Experience introducing the 10 phases

Download the Customer Genius Toolkit with 30 essential tools for making it happen.


Buy Customer Genius from >

Book details

Publisher: Wiley Capstone
Publication date: March 20, 2009
ISBN: 978-1841127880


Loved it … Examples galore, simple but powerful messaging. its become my go to book for ideas!

Allan Evo