Your customer is not always right - Wharton School’s Peter S. Fader gives exclusive insights to Manthan Systems

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Drawing the distinction between great customer service and true customer-centricity essential for profitability in retail

Customer service is a bit like rolling out the red carpet to all your customers. Customer centricity is not the same.

Peter S. Fader, Professor of Marketing, Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania) in an exclusive interview with Manthan Systems, a leader in the global retail Business Intelligence and Analytics space, throws light on the critical need for retailers to build competitive advantage through customer-centric strategies.

Fader, who is also the Co-director of the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative (WCAI), highlights the common error that retailers make of mistaking great ‘customer service’ for ‘customer centricity’. “Customer service is a bit like rolling out the red carpet to all your customers. It involves making each of your customers feel special irrespective of the value of their business with you," notes Fader. “Customer centricity, on the other hand, is all about identifying your most high-value customers and focusing all service-oriented and value-enhancing activities towards this select group for optimizing your business profitability.”

Atul Jalan, CEO, Manthan Systems says, “A sound analytics backend is a critical differentiator in creating successful customer-centric strategies. Retailers should focus on the right kind of retail metrics like customer lifetime value and average customer spending patterns to effectively identify their most high-value customers.”

“This makes it easy for retailers to direct their best offers, superior services and personalized attention towards this select group,” he adds.

A tough, post-recessionary economy, the challenges of omni-channel retail and the growing expectations of today’s customers is bringing pressure on retailers to make every marketing dollar count. Customer-centric strategies can help retailers achieve this through more effective customer segmentation, well-targeted marketing campaigns and offers built around their most high-value customers.

For profitability and results to really begin to show, organizations need to embrace the concept of customer centricity from the C-level downwards, cascading down to every department within. The retail industry is still a long way off from such a pervasive acceptance of the concept of customer-centricity but the process has definitely begun.

To understand how customer-centricity can form the basis for personalized customer engagement and superior retail models, read the full interview with Peter S. Fader at


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Ajith Nayar
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