Today virtually every company claims to be customer-centric, but scarcely any really are.

Despite their boasts, they haven’t truly put customers at the center of all they do. They typically have no idea how much money they make or lose with each of their customers. They can’t clearly articulate the value proposition they offer their customers, nor can they describe competitors’ value propositions. So they can’t even begin to explain why their value proposition is better – if, by some chance, it actually is.

They can’t explain in a crisp, clear way why they offer the value propositions they do – that is, they can’t describe in detail the different needs of their different customers.

While these self-proclaimed customer-centric firms insist they love their customers, no one is actually in charge of the complete customer experience. Instead, lots of people have a piece of it. But as everyone who has worked in an organization knows, when many people are responsible for something, no one is. And if no one is clearly accountable for the complete customer experience, it’s guaranteed not to be very good.

Perhaps most dangerously in today’s environment, these firms haven’t the faintest notion how much each of their customers or customer segments contributes to – or subtracts from – the value of their stock. So no matter how earnestly they try to make customers happy, these companies are flying blind when it comes to their ultimate bottom line, the shareholder value they’re under tremendous pressure to deliver.

Truly Customer-Centric companies are just the opposite.

Because they’re truly Customer-Centric, they conceive of their companies not as collections of products, services, territories, or functions, but rather as a portfolio of customers.

As a result, they enjoy enormous competitive advantages.

They know which customers are valuable and which aren’t, so they allocate resources far more effectively.

They know how to make all their customers more valuable.

They understand in detail the needs of all their customers, so they wow customers while competitors bore them.

They make sure their customer value propositions stay superior – and profitable – because specific managers are accountable for making them so.

They manage their portfolio of customers for shareholder value – which they deliver far more impressively than competitors can.

With every day of Customer-Centricity, they gain knowledge and advantages that competitors will find it harder and harder to match.

Real companies in a range of industries are doing all these things today.

Someday soon, one of your competitors will see the overwhelming advantages of true Customer-Centricity.

Can you afford to let them get started first?