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Strategic Value of Customer Relationships — Online

Program Overview

Your best opportunities for growth may not lie solely in developing new “blockbuster” products or services. They may instead be found by selling better to your existing best customers — and finding new customers with similar behavioral tendencies.

Led by Professor Peter Fader, a world-renowned thought leader on marketing analytics and co-director of the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative, this program is designed to help executives from a range of functional areas and industries identify their most valuable customers and maximize their strategic value.

Read more about the Experience & Impact »

Program Highlights & Benefits

  • Eight weeks of interactive instruction delivered online
  • Apply knowledge immediately as soon as you acquire it
  • Rethink the way you approach your best customers

Contact Us

Schedule a personalized consultation to discuss your professional goals:


Dates TBD

Technical Requirements

Participants will need a computer (desktop or laptop) with a microphone and speakers. The learning platform is accessed through a web browser and works best in the latest versions of Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer. Adobe Flash player may be required to view some animation and videos. The learning platform can also be viewed on mobile devices. A detailed technical specifications sheet will be emailed to all accepted participants and a guided orientation on how to use the platform will be scheduled before the program begins.

Featured Video

Professor Peter Fader on the Strategic Value of Customer Relationships

Experience & Impact

You might have the data and the technology to track your best customers, but how can you meaningfully differentiate between them and the rest? How do you align your operations around them? And how do you create and sustain competitive advantages from such practices? This eight-week online program will help you radically rethink how you develop and implement customer-centric strategies, so you can:

  • Make an informed decision about whether, how, and when to invest in customer centricity
  • Make the case for customer centricity in your organization
  • Find a balance in your organization between customer-centric and product-centric efforts
  • Decide what initial experiments your company should invest in to achieve customer centricity
  • Choose metrics to gauge and guide ongoing customer-centric efforts

This open-enrollment online program will deliver the latest research and thought leadership on customer relationships to you wherever you are located. You will be able to apply knowledge immediately as you acquire it. Gain valuable insight into how to apply performance metrics and rethink product development processes in order to meet the needs of your most valuable customers.

The program begins with interactive introductory and ice-breaking activities facilitated by Wharton’s professional teaching staff. Then, you will watch lectures, read relevant case studies and research, join discussions, and work in small groups on assignments to ensure meaningful reflection and learning of the program content. Professor Fader will provide input and feedback on discussions and assignments.

Each week you will join Prof. Fader and fellow participants in a synchronous virtual classroom for lively discussions that focus on immediate impact. The dialogue will continue in a forum where you can converse with fellow participants who share your challenges, learning from one another’s experiences about what is working (and what isn’t).

Program topics include:

  • Product Centricity versus Customer Centricity
  • Customer Equity and Firm Valuation
  • Customer Lifetime Value
  • Managing Customers According to Value
  • Acquisition and Retention Optimization
  • Perspectives on Customer Relationship Management

After the Program Ends

Prof. Fader will host a live virtual classroom after the program has ended to answer any questions and get updates on related projects undertaken in your organization.

Who Should Attend

Participants in Strategic Value of Customer Relationships come from a range of industries, including financial services, consumer packaged goods, hospitality, and pharmaceuticals. The lessons will be global in nature and will include plenty of business-to-business examples as well as business-to-consumer ones.

Experienced upper-middle to senior level executives in marketing, finance, technology, and HR will benefit from the emphasis on leveraging existing customer information, gathering better data, and allocating resources based on customer value. Those coming from brand- or product-centric organizations will learn to strike a balance with customer centricity.

An application is required to participate in this program. In order to ensure an optimal learning experience for all participants, enrollment will be limited.

Group Enrollment

To further maximize the value and impact of the Strategic Value of Customer Relationships, we encourage companies to enroll cross-functional teams of executives.


Will taking this program count as academic credit?

No, Strategic Value of Customer Relationships is a non-credit, non-degree program.

Do I have to have a professional or academic background in marketing to take this program?

No, you do not have to have a background in marketing. However, this program is designed for experienced upper-middle to senior level executives in marketing, finance, technology, business development, and human resources.

What type of equipment will I need for this program?

You must have a laptop or desktop computer with a webcam and speakers. The learning platform is accessed through a Web browser and works best in the latest versions of Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer. Adobe Flash player may be required to view some animation and videos. The learning platform can also be viewed on mobile devices. A detailed technical specifications sheet will be emailed to all participants accepted to the program before the first class.

I've never taken an online class before. Will I have an opportunity to take the learning platform for a "test drive" before the first session?

Yes. All participants will receive a guided orientation to the platform and other tools used prior to the start of the program. You will also get access to tutorials, FAQs, and guides. A Learning Technologist will be available to troubleshoot problems by appointment.

What will a typical class be like?

The Strategic Value of Customer Relationships is an eight-week long program. Each week a new set of video lectures and case studies will be added to the program website. Depending on the weekly topic, group projects may be assigned. All online lectures and virtual classroom sessions will be recorded and available for your review after the event.

Over the course of each week you will be expected to:

  • View video lectures and read accompanied articles and case studies
  • Post your observations and comments to the discussion forum
  • Collaborate with other participants online through discussion forums, video and web conferencing to complete individual and group assignments
  • Participate in weekly virtual classroom for an interactive question and answer session with Prof. Fader

Approximately how many hours a week will this take?

Participants should expect to spend approximately 7 to 10 hours per week to cover the coursework.

I work for a company or organization that would like to enroll multiple employees in the same program. Is this possible?

Yes, a limited number of participants from the same company or organization can be enrolled in this program. Please contact Wharton Executive Education Customer Care (+1 215.898.1776) for details.

What happens after the program is finished? Can I still access the program’s learning platform?

An online session with Prof. Peter Fader will be offered a month after the program’s conclusion. This will be an opportunity to ask questions, get feedback, and share success stories. Participants will have access to team areas of the learning website for up to six months after the conclusion of the program.

Will this program be offered at a later date?

Yes, Strategic Value of Customer Relationships will be offered again. Contact a Program Consultant at +1.215.898.1776 or by email execed@wharton.upenn.edu if you would like to be notified once we begin accepting applications.


Peter Fader, PhD   See Faculty Bio

Frances and Pei-Yuan Chia Professor; Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Lifetime value of the customer, sales forecasting for new products, behavioral data


I lead the CRM team for Dressbarn, a women’s apparel retailer serving forty-something women. We are focused on giving our target woman relevant fashion that fits her stage of life — that is both age appropriate and stylish. My goal in taking this course was to better understand how to move our organization’s understanding of customer centricity and to have a more holistic view of the customer. We’re never going to win on just product — we’re not Apple, so it’s about determining what the customer really values in order to make that connection and build loyalty.

These days the competition for share of wallet is extreme. It’s so easy to look online — for instance, Amazon just entered the apparel world in a big way — positioning themselves as a clothing destination. The world is changing you and you have to know who your customer is so you stay relevant to her.

The core course content was extremely valuable regardless of what industry you’re in. Professor Peter Fader delivers a compelling argument in measuring your customers lifetime value to determine which customers you should concentrate on realizing that not all customers are created equal.

I was a little skeptical about taking an online course, but between the weekly "Pete Cast" (a live webinar) and the online forum — where my classmates and I posted answers to questions — I felt this sense of community even though we were in different locations.  I now have a group of peers who I can reach out to if I want to test something or use them as a sounding board.

I highly recommend Wharton’s online class and other seminars — they have helped accelerate our path to become more customer-centric. We are a lot further along than we would have been without the support of Wharton.”

Wharton professor Pete Fader knows that it’s much easier to retain and grow a current customer than find a new one.  He applies mathematical models to segment customers based on their lifetime value – demonstrating how this model can make an exponential difference in the value of your enterprise.

I’ve embraced Wharton’s approach. I deal with companies that are very profitable and those that are going through financial distress or are being groomed for sale. The first thing I look at when coming to a new company is, ‘How do we really interact with a customer and what’s their lifetime value potential?’

All company leaders and senior sales and operational staff should take this course. The Wharton program will expand your personal and your company’s value proposition, and it will give you a disruptive edge in the marketplace.”

The Strategic Value of Customer Relationships “provided a great framework unlike any I had ever learned for looking at customer centricity,” says Evan Oster, a Wharton alumnus and Miami-based marketing executive. He says he found the program “immediately applicable” to his work in business development, and notes that other marketing courses for executives generally focus primarily on brand building and brand equity.

Oster says that the program’s focus on customer data and drilling down into their individual choices distinguished the online program. “I really appreciate Wharton making this high level of content and teaching available online. It makes taking the course much more feasible from both a time and money perspective.”

Taking Wharton’s Strategic Value of Customer Relationships course online was a perfect option for me because of the demands of my work at that time. Indeed, people can’t always take a week off to spend in a classroom and this online format still allows them to learn from Wharton without the added constraints and cost of travel. However, taking an online course does require a bit more discipline than attending a week-long or half-week long class since it spans eight weeks during which you have to make time for weekly online videos, classes and coursework as well as to contribute to online discussions and provide feedback on fellow students’ work. In parallel to the online interface, I also started a LinkedIn group for anyone taking the course, so as to strengthen the alumni network spirit and enable the group to share additional thoughts and continue exploring this topic after the course ended.  I would definitely take a Wharton course online again, but would ideally recommend a combination of online and in-person classes if possible.

Prof. Pete Fader’s content was great and extremely well delivered via great technology.  This class gave me a framework for how to better approach and understand strategic customer relationships. We are quite a young business and, although our customer base is growing at a fast rate, not having the right customer base could still harm our sustainable growth and ultimately affect company valuation negatively. It’s therefore paramount to better understand which customers to go after, which ones to nurture over time and which ones to ignore or even let go, which can be a hard thing to do — but a no brainer after you take this course!”

Guy-Edward Waterland

Founder/CEO, CronLab Ltd., a UK-based IT content security company

Customer Centricity: Focus on the Right Customers for Strategic Advantage

Participants in the program will get a copy of the book and other materials as part of the program.

Download a free excerpt

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