Is the current focus on segmented customer service based on a customer’s worth (profits) — platinum service only for good customers, bare-bones service for others — another fad that will go the way of the reengineering zeal of the early 1990s?

That fad created overlean and mean companies that cut costs at the expense of building competitive muscle, like product development and marketing. It also led to some of the megamergers that are turning into megaflops. Consider AT&T’s sweeping breakup into three businesses after spending $100 billion to build a futuristic network and DaimlerChrysler’s management makeover, which was sparked by post-merger losses.

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