Customer managed relationships (CMR), a rebranding of CRM or just a philosophical change?


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Marketing thought leader, Seth Godin, wrote a blog titled: ‘CRM is dead.’ In this blog, he cited how Disney destinations marketing division, now have a department called Customer managed relationships (CMR). To further buttress the point, Tim from Disney enthused: “CMR is our Vision of CRM- just a slight nuance regarding our philosophy that our guests invite us into their lives and ultimately manage our presence/relationship with them.”
The acronym of CMR does depict the increasing power of the 21st century customer.

Marc Bienoff, the CEO of conceived of this as ‘the internet of customers,’ as customers become the fulcrum on which successful businesses revolve. He said in his keynote speech, during Dreamforce 2013, “We need to reassess how we connect to our customers in a whole new way. Some companies pivot to their shareholders or partners. We pivot to our customers. Pivot to your customers. That is what the new world is about.”
Customer relationship management systems continue to evolve and integrate with the social customer to deliver effective and efficient service.

In the case of Disney Destinations, adopting a CMR approach or philosophy, entailed providing their customers an opportunity to control their own experience, through personalization tools, that comprises of identifying locations, processes, means of travel and length of stay, all at their own time and convenience.
Customers want a collaborative and free environment, where they control how they relate with you. They want to choose how they contact you, how they choose how and when a product is delivered.

A couple of days ago, I had an experience with a cable provider, BskyB. I felt I was not receiving a full return on my monthly subscription, which continued to increase in price without any justification. I called up to cancel my subscription, stating that I could not justify why I was paying much, the customer service agent, did not put up a fight, understandably heeded to my request. A few hours later, a received an emotionally provoking email from sky, stating how they were so sorry to see me leave and that they would like to help me in the best possible way. That softened my stance a bit, but I stood by my decision. I missed out on two calls from a non-geographic number, thinking it could be some promotional company, calling to sell me some unwanted product or service. This same number then called again, I picked up the call and had an impressive experience that saw the philosophy of CMR (customer managed relationships) embedded in BskyB’s CRM (customer relationship management). I will now share the CMR characteristics I deduced from my interaction with BskyB, that every companies CRM strategy should adopt.

Features of a CMR driven philosophy in CRM

1) More listening and less talking: When the BskyB retention agent contacted me, she did more listening and spoke less. It looked more like I was controlling the discussion, by so doing I felt empowered and valued.

2) Persisting but not insisting: BskyB persisted to reach out to me when I put in a request to cancel my subscription. They sent me an email, I ignored and they called me about twice before I finally picked up. That showed they really wanted me to stay but the more exciting thing was that the retention sales agent, did not insist I stay with sky. She listened to me, to find out where there was a need, by asking me what TV channels I watched the most. It wasn’t a force-sell but a need discovery, which ended with a value proposition.

3) Use of power words: Power words like ‘You’ was used a lot during my conversation. It sounded a lot empowering as the retention agent made it sound like, it was all about my interest.

4) Empathy and Intrigue: The email I received from BskyB had this, “We’ve tried to make you laugh and put you on the edge of your seat. But most of all, we’ve loved putting on a show for you. So we’re sad that you’ve cancelled your Sky TV.” This email has a very emotional and intriguing tone. It caught my attention and made me feel like I, the customer was all that BskyB was interested in, not my subscription but putting up a show for me.

5) Flexibility and Compromise: The sales agent was very flexible in listening and adjusting to my needs, which resulted in my re-subscription. It simply made it clear that providing the best product and at the appropriate price, to make me happy as the customer, was Sky’s priority.

While I doubt, CMR as a new form of CRM that is to come, it will not be too wrong to state that CRM has to adopt a CMR philosophy, which captures the customer as the focal point of the interaction. Customers want to dictate how and when they are communicated with. Understanding this, will definitely will help reduce churn and improve customer experience.


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