Hutch makes some really good points here about how to gauge the nature of the relationship your customers want with you. He brings in Clayton Christiansen’s advice regarding the necessity to understand the correct mix of social, functional, and emotional dimensions of every customers requirements (whether wanted or needed).
I found a statement by Hutch about SAP rather interesting, because he uses them as an example of the complexity requiring a deep, attached relationship (the green bar of the graph associated with this cross-post), and goes on to say “Customers want a relationship with SAP. Frankly, they need it.” I found the last sentence rather interesting because it does sound a bit like a marriage of convenience gone bad; morphing into more of a marriage of necessity; impossible to extricate from regardless of how uncomfortable, expensive, and counter-productive it might be.
I understand my opinion here may be somewhat colored by my experience at my last company, where an acquisition by an organization that was tied to SAP resulted in a forced switch that was very uncomfortable (maybe even painful) for quite a lot of people and which didn’t necessarily solve any problems other than those perceived by corporate IT and procurement folks.
If you’re interested in CRM or SCRM, and what some thoughts are with respect to whether or not customers actually want a relationship with you or your organization, this is a good read.