V Is for Victory—But the Victory Isn't Yours

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The victory, of course, belongs to the customer—who has always “owned” her relationship with you, no matter what the letters of CRM might imply. 

You’re probably not surprised. In fact, it’s been nearly a year since our first Social Media Issue (June 2009), in which we posed the question “Who Owns the Social Customer?” Our answer at the time was “No one.” (Sure, it was a trick question—no one said we weren’t sneaky.)

We’ll revisit that topic—and that question—next month, with our second annual special report on CRM and social media. In gearing up for that, however, we thought we’d set the scene a bit first. With this first-ever Customer Empowerment Issue, we hope to prod the conversation one step further—by casting an eye more than 10 years back, to The Cluetrain Manifesto.

Tilting at Web-based windmills at the height of the dot-com craziness, Cluetrain‘s quixotic quartet of authors made popular the notion that “markets are conversations”—a concept we all now take as gospel, a foundation of the social interactions between companies and customers.

But the manifesto’s true impact continues to unfold, particularly in the form of what’s come to be called “vendor relationship management.” (There’s another “V” for you.) We’ve included in the following pages some of the driving forces behind the movement, and we’ve constructed an oral history of Cluetrain itself. We’ve also got an exclusive excerpt from a new book explaining how the empowered customer—the socially connected empowered customer—is emerging as an essential feature of the co-creation process.

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