The conversation left me speechless. A group of friends gathered around the kitchen table for our bimonthly book club night - a chance to catch up on each other's lives as much as debate a good read. One was talking about her time spent on the board of a major business in the City and, for obvious reasons, I was intrigued to know how those at the top got inside the heads of their customers. So I asked: "How often do consumers get talked about in your boardroom meetings?" "Never." "What, not once in the last year?" "No, never. In the last nine years." "But how on earth is that possible?" And her response? A guilty-looking shrug. It was an astonishing admission. During her time on the board, there was not one discussion about the company's relationships with the people who buy its products and services. The one thing every business needs to do every minute of every day is build relationships with customers - ensuring the loyalty of the best and longest, and grabbing the attention of the newest and most fickle. And you can never build those relationships until you understand a simple but often neglected truth: that a business exists to serve the customer.