Inaugural lecture of new customer management institute identifies recession opportunities

From: Adaptation Ltd
Published: Sun Apr 05 2009

Helping customers to cope with economic adversity can create lasting bonds according to Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas: "Smart companies monitor how their customers are affected by recession and look at what they can do to help customers respond to challenges and seize any opportunities."

Delivering the inaugural lecture of the Institute of Customer Management in Accra, Ghana on the topic: ‘How Customer Service Professionals can turn Economic Recession to Advantage’, the Adaptation chairman argued: "Recessions create opportunities to help customers, gain competitive advantage and build market share. Suppliers can forge long-term relationships. A friend in need is a friend indeed."

While in Ghana Coulson-Thomas participated in the initial session of the Institute’s customer management programme, and gave three talks to the Institute’s students on building more profitable and mutually beneficial relationships with customers. He was also a studio guest on TV3’s Sunrise programme, and gave recorded interviews for the channel’s change manager programme, and Tuesday Business News.

Adaptation is collaborating with the Institute of Customer Management in an initiative to help African entrepreneurs and customer management teams review and improve how they manage customer relationships. Several modules of new certificate and diploma courses are based upon an investigation led by the Professor which resulted in the report: ‘Developing Strategic Customers and Key Accounts’.

While western media dwell on Africa’s problems Coulson-Thomas believes the continent’s opportunities are often overlooked "900 million consumers have requirements and aspirations which can be addressed by ambitious and imaginative suppliers. Customer management professionals and entrepreneurs need to engage with customers in new ways that deliver service, value and mutually beneficial outcomes."

According to Coulson-Thomas, "Customers create value. Suppliers generate scrap and waste unless customers purchase what they produce. Suppliers must work with customers rather than sell to them, and help them to understand their needs and assess available options. Smart suppliers make it easy for customers to buy from them and secure after sales support. They learn with customers and develop bespoke solutions."

Coulson-Thomas’ ‘Winning Companies; Winning People’ investigation identifies critical success factors for activities that are critical for corporate success such as building customer relationships. He finds: "The approaches of customer management teams that build long term and profitable relationships with customers are very different from those of teams that struggle and fail. To raise their game, ambitious practitioners need to understand what the high performers do differently."

The collaboration with the Institute of Customer Management aims to address a variety of development needs. New certificate and diploma courses have commenced that are aimed at entrepreneurs, people who are in or seeking managerial roles; and those who have ambitions to become customer management professionals.

The Institute of Customer Management is based in Accra, Ghana. Its mission is to inspire excellence in customer management. The Institute is collaborating with UK based Adaptation Ltd which helps people and organisations adapt to changing aspirations, requirements and conditions. Details of the company’s support activities can be found on

The new customer management initiative will draw upon a series of briefings that examine different aspects of customer management and recent projects to support people who have responsibility for building mutually beneficial and lasting relationships with customers. The 28 briefings in ‘Close to the Customer’ series and related bespoke benchmarking reports that compare an organisation with its average and most successful peers can be ordered from

Over 2,000 companies have participated in Prof. Coulson-Thomas’ research programme which examines what the most successful people, teams and companies do differently in areas such as winning new business and key account management. Reports setting out identified critical success factors and his book ‘Winning Companies; Winning People’ which summarises his findings about the approaches of high performers can also be obtained from:

Colin Coulson-Thomas, Chairman of Adaptation is an experienced consultant, author of ‘Winning Companies; Winning People’, and consultant editor of the ‘Close to the Customer’ series of briefings on customer management. He has reviewed processes and practices of over 100 companies, helped over 100 boards to improve board and/or corporate performance, and spoken at over 200 national, international and corporate conferences in 35 countries. He can be contacted via
Company: Adaptation Ltd
Contact Name: Colin Coulson-Thomas
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: +44(0)1733361149

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