Are Customers Running the Asylum?

Below is a response I wrote to a blog on customer experience management. I would love to hear what you think.

One thing businesses have been slow to realize is they have lost control of the customer conversation, and as such, at least from the customer’s perspective, have forfeited their right to control the customer experience.

Traditional customer relationship management (CRM) has always been a Push.  A manages B.  Organizations manage customers.  Sort of reminds me of cowboys trying to manage a herd of cattle into the cow-pen for slaughter.  Organizations have only been marginally successful at “managing” their customers.

Customer Experience Management (CEM), CRM’s big brother, is at least a thought in the right direction.  However, most firms still do not “get it.”  The ungotten “it” is that customers have taken over the sandbox and they are not going to give it back.  Customers are now managing vendors, and the vendors have yet to figure that out.

Most firms can print a report titled “My customers” or “Our customers.”  The single most important error with these reports is the use of the pronouns ‘my’ and ‘our’.  Firms no longer own customers.  More accurately, customers now hold the power.  Customers now have “My vendor” reports; vendors they have researched and hand-culled.

If a firm wants to check out how well they are managing the customer experience all they have to do is to Google themselves, or search for themselves on YouTube.  See what people are saying about them.  Not much of it is favorable, but much of it is viral.  Videos, blogs, Tweets, and chat rooms.

Manage that?  Too little too late.  Customers are issuing virtual RFPs.  Whether customers want a large screen television or a hip replacement, they go to the web.  They find out your pricing, how well you service your customers.  They make informed decisions.  Most organizations have a long way to go just to get back into the battle to make it a fair fight.  The first step is for them to learn how they are being managed by their customers and then to learn what to do about it.

2 thoughts on “Are Customers Running the Asylum?

  1. I like how you call out the phrase “my customer”/”our customer” as these days it has never been more true that what a business ever really has is “my contract”/”our contract.” Anything beyond that and we are thinking too far ahead!


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