Carnegie Mellon University

Customer-Driven Strategies and Services

Course Number: 45932

Service and e-commerce businesses constitute the majority of interactions for most customers, and most business students will work in service jobs, whether they are in manufacturing, e-com, or service companies. Although businesses give much lip-service to customer satisfaction, too many of these businesses do a poor job of attracting, serving, or retaining these customers. Instead, many companies have overly focused on inserting technology interfaces while under-serving the customer. Or, they have focused on how they want to approach/manipulate the customer rather than on what the customer wants from the interaction.

This course explores the concepts of customer service and customer-driven within the context of service, e-commerce, and other companies. It will examine what companies must do to attract, keep, and get repeat business from highly satisfied customers. It will explore how traditional businesses accomplish these goals and whether traditional concepts/tools apply to e-commerce companies. When possible, it will highlight traditional and e-commerce companies that provide positive and negative examples.

The course will also distinguish between e-commerce companies that provide a service and those that are customer-driven arms for manufacturing companies. Even some manufacturing companies (e.g. autos and computers) that traditionally were production or technology driven now find competitive advantage in being customer-driven. (Ford Motor changed its company slogan from "Quality if #1 at Ford" to "The Customer is #1 at Ford.") As these companies move into an e-commerce environment, it may require a re-thinking of their business and approach to customers.

Topics that may be included are:

  • What does it mean to be customer-driven for any business?
  • How do you (or should you) make your firm more customer-driven?
  • How does a customer-driven strategy change the way a company positions itself?
  • How .do companies attract and select profitable customers that they can satisfy?
  • How do companies attract and select employees that they can satisfy customers?
  • How does a company design operations to be customer friendly?
  • How does a company design its organizational structure and culture to be customer friendly?
  • What is the nature of service in traditional and e-commerce business?
  • What differentiates services from manufacturing?
  • What is the role of technology in service delivery and competitive advantage?
  • What e-commerce technologies are available for the customer service?
  • How do you measure and maintain quality in service businesses?
  • What HR practices and policies help organizations be more customer focused?
  • What are the economies of customer service and highly satisfied customers?
  • What do customers expect and how do you increase a loyal customer base?
  • Are there customer-driven differences between B2B, B2C, C2B, P2P?
  • What are the privacy issues from the customer’s viewpoint, especially in e-commerce?
  • How do global firms train and reward their employees to be customer focused?


Degree: MBA
Concentration: Marketing
Academic Year: 2019-2020
Semester(s): Mini 2
Required/Elective: Elective
Units: 6


Lecture: 100min/wk and Recitation: 50min/wk