No existing management theory helps much in explaining the role of the customer in the prototypical excellent company. At most, recent theory talks about the importance of the external environment in influencing the institution. It misses by a mile, however, the intensity of customer orientation that exists within the top performers, and that intensity seems to be one of the best kept secrets in American business.
Tom Peters, In Search of Excellence
A message must always be shaped in some measure, of course, to fit the audience; but in business and professional communications, the audience is more often than in many other kinds of specialized discourses the chief determinant of the means adopted to effect the end.
-- Edward P. J. Corbett, What Classical Rhetoric Has to Offer
This chapter offers a case study of a firm that found itself in a newly competitive environment and decided to assess its key communications with clients as part of its attempt to compete. MBT Associates, an award-winning architectural firm based in San Francisco, California, made this assessment of its interview presentation, its primary means of communicating its service and identity to its clients. During the course of this assessment, MBT discovered that its interview presentation was shaped primarily by the interests of the presenters and by an understandable emphasis on design, but all to the relative exclusion of the client as the receiver of the interview's com-