Success depends on the customer, 21st century business is finally realizing. Instead of regarding their customers as a faceless mob, big companies are trying to develop relationships with them. These companies realize they can increase their customer base – and the value of each customer – by developing "one-to-one" relationships.

Developing such relationships with customers isn't new. Every mom-and-pop grocery has been doing it since the dawn of commerce. What's new is that today's technologies enable large companies to build relationships cost effectively with individual customers (at least in theory). Even so, large companies face the challenge of developing relationships that customers will actually value. After all, who really wants a relationship with their phone company?

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