Strategy and CX: what are the five questions that you need to answer?

Recently, I came across this piece – Don’t Let Strategy Become Planning – from Roger Martin.  I recommend reading it.  If you do not wish to make the time then this post is for you.

Strategy is not planning, it is an integrated set of choices

Strategy is not planning – it is an integrated set of choices that collectively position the firm in its industry so as to create sustainable advantage relative to competition and deliver superior financial returns.  Obviously you can’t execute a strategy without initiatives, investments, and budgeting.  But what you need to get managers focused on before you start on these things is the strategy that will make these initiatives coherent.

Strategy is singular: there is only one strategy for a given business

..strategy is a singular thing; there is one strategy for a given business – not a set of strategies.  It is one integrated set of choices: what is our winning aspiration; where will we play; how will we win; what capabilities need to be in place; and what management systems must be instituted?

Strategy by Roger Martin

What has this to do with being customer-centric or customer experience?

If we stand in this framework, then it occurs to me that the customer-centric orientation as put forth by Don Peppers and/or customer experience are relevant if and only if the answer to the question “How will we win?” is “through being customer-centric and/or delivering a great customer experience”.

Looking at what is so, it occurs to me that the majority of companies have a business strategy whose answer to the question “How will we win?” is “not by being customer-centric nor by crafting/delivering a great customer experience.”

What do you think?

Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant. Passionate about enabling customer-centricity by calling forth the best from those that work in the organisation and the intelligent application of digital technologies. Subject matter expert with regards to customer strategy, customer insight, customer experience (CX), customer relationship management (CRM), and relationship marketing. Working at the intersection of the Customer, the Enterprise (marketing, sales, service), and Technology.

7 thoughts on “Strategy and CX: what are the five questions that you need to answer?”

  1. Maz,
    Based on my experience most businesses started out being customer-centric and delivering a great buying experience was inherent in their model. They knew their buyers and understood their buyers problems. Chances are high their founder was actually working for someone else when he or she discovered an unresolved problem. Chances are they even brought it to their current company and was met with; thanks but get back to doing what we pay you to do. So they launch….

    The solution is launched and the next thing you know you have a business. It grows and then something happens, …you start focusing on your needs, your ROI to justify new tooling, your desired market share, your investors needs and you drift away from your clear understanding of the market, its buyers and their problems.

    So you kick off a week end of ” strategic planning” . The trouble is most of the people in the room have not interacted with one of your buyers in months and are using what they perceive to be true , instead of clearly understanding the buyers and how they want to buy today.The room full of smart executives focus on “their” goals. They launch what they believe to be a strategic plan, but fundamentally it lacks strategy. It is a “plan” but since it fails to have current market understanding it fails to perform.

    Market leaders gather current buyer data and desired customer experience and build their executable plan with KPI’s that mirror how their buyers want to be treated.

    Market losers spend the off site week end crafting a plan that no one executes and ultimately drives your CEO nuts as I shared in my blog and you tube :

    Thanks for the post, and the best overall strategy will be built with a clear understanding of market current problems, how they try to solve them, and how to deliver a great customer experience.



    1. Hello Mark
      Many thanks for sharing your perspective. And it occurs to me that you are a wise man – wise through experience. Yes, my experience agrees with your experience.

      I wish you the very best.



  2. Maz,

    I am not sure I agree entirely with everything you say.

    I think that every company thinks that it will win by “being customer-centric and/or delivering a great customer experience”. There are very few that would say otherwise.

    However, most companies also think they will win by creating great products, a world class supply chain, a centre of excellence in outsourcing and sound risk and control management, or whatever is hot this week.

    So where I do agree and whole heartedly so is that “strategy is singular” and most organisations don’t have singular strategies, they just have competing initiatives.



    1. Hi James, Maz,
      If I may I’d like to agree and disagree with James. I’d like to disagree when you say that “every company thinks that it will win by “being customer-centric and/or delivering a great customer experience”. There are very few that would say otherwise.”

      I would use Ryannair as an example that doesn’t fit that statement. So, does the exception disprove the rule?

      But, I couldn’t agree more that most businesses don’t have singular strategies but just have competing initiatives. And, that seems to be where the problem (lack of clarity) lies for many firms.



      1. Hello Adrian
        I am with you in the sense that I am clear that most companies are not customer-centric and the reason the are not is that they do not have to be.

        Ryanair is a great example. It does well by doing a job that many customers want done. And the customers are willing to get that job done and in the process be treated the way that they are treated.

        The mobile telecoms companies are also not customer-centric. It is a fact that the mobile telecomms take advantage of information asymmetry to ensure that customers are on the wrong plans. In fact they do everything in their power to make it hard for customers to be on the best plan. The same logic applies to the gas & electricity companies.



  3. Hello James

    It is through disagreement that the opportunity for learning shows up. I am clear on that. And as such I thank your for disagreeing with me!.

    It occurs to me that you have disclosed something valuable. It is as if a whole bunch of initiatives are being pursued because those are in fashion. Yes they conflict. And I see something more. None, is pursued with gusto – with all out passion. Take Zappos, it has pursued customer service – in its fullest sense – with such passion. Unreasonable passion. Unreasonable commitment. And built a business, a brand, on that foundation.

    Once again, I thank you for disagreeing with me.



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