In 1987 we founded a consultancy that specialized in market and customer management. Our work centred on helping our clients make more money by increasing their revenues. While we also advised on how to reduce costs or change processes, the majority of our activity was directed at improving the efficiency, effectiveness and, critically, the profitability of our clients’ operations by growing the value of the customers they served.
Over the course of the following 15 years, we were able to work with some of the UK's largest and most successful companies, across many industries. We observed a wide range of strategies being implemented by an extraordinary array of senior managers, who adopted a diverse set of management styles and techniques to address many and varied business challenges.
Irrespective of the differences in objectives, strategies and styles, there was always one common factor. Every organization with which we worked (without exception) relied on its customers to generate the income that paid the bills, the salaries and, of course, our fees! Notwithstanding the ability of financiers to move a company's share price by fancy manipulation such as off-balance-sheet financing, this same income is the fundamental and, arguably, the only lasting source of long-term shareholder value.