Is the Customer the Enemy?

Christopher Carfi writes about Oracle and Oracle’s Social CRM (I had to look it up: stands for Customer Relationship Management.)

First, the pragmatic bits.  Oracle still has a long way to go to truly embrace the notion that the customer can be in control, or at least be a mutually beneficial party, in the business relationship.  Exhibit A, the cringeworthy tag line and subhead on the page shown above.  What does it say?

“Oracle Social CRM Applications leverage Web 2.0 technologies to help sales people identify qualified leads, develop effective sales campaigns and presentations, and collaborate with colleagues to close more deals quickly.”

I don’t even know where to start with that messaging and the general wrong-way-rubbing that it induces.  Perhaps the easiest thing to point out is that it’s still 100% focused on the sales team, and implicitly views the customer as the enemy, or at least simply the next transaction.

I worry that sometimes in some libraries – and just a few- we regard our users as enemies to be corralled by policies and rules that prevent a true relationship. We can learn from what Carfi describes about Oracle. There are some high points:

The other bright spot was a proof-of-concept demo that was shown for customer The Body Shop.  This was an iPhone application that started to inch down the path to giving more power to the customer, or at least include her in the relationship at some level.  

Nice! How are we giving more power to the user? I see excellent examples by some of our library innovators, but this post, and many others like it calling for a more human relationship with customers, clients, etc, signals to me the tide is truly turning. What can you do to shift the balance?