Achieving profitable growth has always been a challenge—and it is becoming more difficult in today’s digital economy. Many companies are responding with strategic cost reduction efforts. While reducing costs is vital to reclaiming profitability, traditional cost reduction techniques often have less impact in the front office. Cutting front-office costs can damage the customer experience and exacerbate customer switching. So, there are unique considerations with the front office that should be addressed via zero-based mindset, a holistic approach to sustainable cost savings.

Ignoring these unique characteristics within the front office can negatively impact the P&L. ZBC (zero-based commercial) overcomes this because of how it addresses customer profitability. By analyzing the economics of each customer—and investing in its most profitable ones—a company can drive greater economic returns than the competition.

$6.6 trillion changed hands in 2017 thanks to consumer switching.

Key findings

Companies that succeed in complex markets will make customer profitability the foundation of everything the front office does. Here are some key principles:

Total customer understanding

In a cost-conscious, growth-focused environment, high-value customers—those that are profitable and strategic—should be the priority.

Beyond customer economics

It is imperative to govern the healthy tension between growth and profitability.

The new front office

As companies establish a customer economics capability, they must also look for the next generation of front office transformations.

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With ZBC, the front office can embrace growth as much as it does efficiency, redirecting resources without the unintended consequence of strangling growth. Here’s how to get started:

  • Live, breathe and love data. The front office must be a ZBC insight hub where end-to-end data is king, and visibility is complete.
  • Clean sheet the front office. The focus must be on rethinking the front office from a blank slate, spending against what costs should be instead of last year’s levels.
  • Get real about should costs. Companies can use technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), to help establish what costs should be.

Rob Honts

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, Customer Service Strategy & Transformation


Stephanie Anderson

Senior Manager – Accenture Strategy

Kwame Monthrope

Customer Strategy Executive – Accenture Strategy

Kari Ryan

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, Customer Insight & Growth Strategy

Craig Simpson

Senior Manager – Accenture Strategy, Customer Insight & Growth Strategy


The Big Zero
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