As in other technological evolutions...

...relationship tech will begin its innovation in the avant garde, then work back to the familiar.

R-tech first appears in the world of the web, but will gradually infiltrate the world of canned goods and sports equipment, as well as TV shows and vacation spots. Eventually it reaches the final stage in the progression of customer relations:

To change what a customer wants. The ongoing tango between customer and provider draws them together until their identities disappear at times. This is especially true in frontier arenas, where expertise is usually in short supply. At first there is no authority on what customers want or what providers should deliver--as in these early days of the web and e-commerce. Expertise has to be developed jointly, coevolved. Customers must be trained and educated by the company to teach them what they need, and then the company is trained and educated by the customers. We saw precisely this equation in the pioneer days of online conferencing about a decade ago. When email and chat began, no one knew the difference between great email and okay email, between fabulous chat areas and average chat areas. The best online companies learned all they knew from their first customers. But the customers, too, had little expertise of what to expect and so relied on the visions and vaporware suggested by the companies. Customer and company educated each other on what was possible.



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This is a blog version of a book of mine first published in 1998. I am re-issuing it (two posts per week) unaltered on its 10th anniversary. Comments welcomed. More details here.
-- KK