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When co‐creating value with a customer goes wrong

Alistair Davidson (S&L Contributing Editor Alistair Davidson is a strategic consultant, and the lead author of Riding the Tiger, a book about strategies and practices in information management. His White Papers on business‐case‐justified sales strategies are available at

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Article publication date: 1 June 2004



In the highly competitive cellular phone market, Sprint has pioneered some marketing and sales practices that, in effect, allow the co‐creation of value in cooperation with the customer. When it works, co‐creating value with customers leads to highly desirable customization, a potent way of developing loyal customers and building profitability. But in this case, when the customer/company relationship hits a snag, the resulting dissatisfaction needs special handling. At crucial points of interaction between the consumer and the company – where the co‐creation experience occurs, where individuals exercise choice, and where value is co‐created – misunderstandings and service breakdowns can destroy the relationship. Insightful lessons for companies seeking to adopt this strategy are summarized, with the essential point being that companies need to learn to focus on customer experiences, and on learning to make accommodations when problems arise.



Davidson, A. (2004), "When co‐creating value with a customer goes wrong", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 14-15.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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