11 July 2008

On Exciting Customers, and Forging Relationships

So I'm finished with transcribing the first round of interviews (yielding about 400 pages of transcripts) among eighteen participants from five organizations. I'd doing a read-through of the conversations to help set the stage for the second round of interviews that more directly probe the context of relationships in organization. In that context, there is the idea that, unlike functionally-defined organizations, both customers and employees are equivalent members of the valence-defined organization. Here's how one of my participants put it, describing his idea of how his customers perceive his organization:
We believe the currency of our business is relationships, so I think that those people who reached out to us, there is … a sense that there are real people behind a real product, [who] are excited about what they’re doing, and that’s infectious.
So the question for the more conventionally self-conceived organizations is, are they as institutionally concerned about how excited their customers are, or do they just care that they continue to spend money?

I would say that in a valence-conceived organization, being institutionally concerned about customer excitement would ideally transcend the marketing function, pervading and being manifest in all aspects of the business. In a functionally conceived organization, on the other hand, customer excitement is a marketing responsibility. Regardless, organizationally pervasive concern for customer excitement would certainly be characteristic of a more-UCaPP, as opposed to more-BAH, organization.

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