How do you define the value of your enterprise? In market capitalization? Quality of products and
services? Customer retention? In his new book, Ray McKenzie teaches managers to value the corporation
through the conversations engendered by its various relationships. Based in Seattle, Washington, McKenzie is
the Director of Management Consulting at DMR Consulting. Building on the concepts of Customer Relationship
Management (CRM), his work will help at least some of your consumers become co-creators in your companys
products and services. By engaging customers, suppliers, employees, and others in rich conversations,
managers glean information about adding value to products, services, co-branding opportunities, management
techniquesanything that promotes a healthier business.
The book is presented in five parts. Part I defines Customer Relationship Management and the
Relationship-Based Enterprise by introducing the vocabulary of the approach and the landscape of the new
economy transformed by the Internet and other technologies. The section concludes with a framework for
fostering valuable conversations and sustaining them over a long period of time. The framework requires
managers to place each consumer in one of four basic groups: patrons, customers, clients or partners. Each
group desires a different level of conversation and offers distinct value to the enterprise. For example,
patrons want limited conversations and focus on getting their products at the cheapest price possible. They
push the enterprise to create a smooth purchasing experience. At the other end, companies have vast amounts
of information about their partners and frequently engage them in rich conversations. Partners help the
enterprise define and refine its products and services.
Parts II through IV focus on the “three Ds” of the Relationship-Based Enterprise: Discovery, Dialogue,
and Discipline. Discovery is customer identification. It includes not only defining your customers, but also
determining what information you must collect from them. The Discovery process helps you learn what the
customers want from interactions with your company and the value potentials of the four groups of customers.
Dialogue helps you determine the type of relationship you want with each customer, ways to absorb information
and how to share control. Traditionally, companies have viewed information as highly proprietary. The
Internet changes that; everything is out in the open. This section seeks to answer: How will the modern
corporation provide value in the face of such openness?
The Discipline section discusses the managerial considerations of the Relationship-Based Enterprise. In
the Information Age, the rules of business have changed and the behaviors of the enterprises human resources
must change with them. Getting people out from behind their desks and into rich conversations with customers
can be a difficult task. Equally difficult is fostering an environment that can change quickly and
effectively, with the capricious needs of its customers. For some, this will be a radical shift in
The Relationship-Based Enterprise is a treasure chest displaying many jewels from this new layer in
Customer Relationship Management. While highly appropriate for non-technical managers and those lacking
successful experience in CRM, the book doesnt include much for the IT community. CRM software, chat
programs, VoIP, and other technologies are mentioned, but the author provides no implementation specifics.
Lets hope Ray McKenzies next contribution to CRM builds on his enterprise transformation work to provide the
IT community with a roadmap detailing how to support the Relationship-Based Enterprise.
Dave Fisco is a developer, consultant and writer. He can be reache