From CRM to CMR - Customer Relationship Management

In 2006, Seth Godin reported on his blog that Disney Destinations, the travel and vacation arm of Disney, had changed their acronym from CRM to CMR from customer relationship management to customer managed relationships.Here’s a bit of the blog entry CRM Is Dead

It might be more than just semantics.Disney Destinations Marketing has a new department:

Customer-Managed Relationships

Here the quote from them that Tim shared with me, “CMR is our version 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.

Disney Destinations characterized this as just a slight nuance.As much as I love Mickey and Goofy, I beg to differ with Disney here.This was by no means trivial.It was a big deal because it was a reflection of the sea change going on in CRM, the recognition that the customer was looking for something quite different than in the past several years.In fact, this is a major company showing some foresight in the knowledge that the business ecosystem has the customer at its hub. And they aren’t the only ones.

In August 2007, George Colony, CEO of Forrester Research, put it as succinctly as one can:

It’s now a two-way conversation.Listen, respond and talk intelligently.Stop dictating to customers.It your customers, not you, who have the power.

None of these are trivial and all of them have had real-world impact or been driven by real-world actions that forced the companies to think about how to handle themselves in this new business environment.

NBC Universal announced sweeping cuts to its television operations yesterday, demonstrating just how far a once-unrivaled network must now go to stay competitive with YouTube, social networks, video games and other upstart media.

NBC was not doing this out of their love for customers or an attempt to pander to youth particularly.They were slammed with the changing business environment and had come face to face with the forces thatwere driving that change and it damaged them.Their losses were material.They made budget cuts of $750 million and 750 staff cuts directly attributable to “YouTube, social networks, video games and other upstart media.”

This social change is not a joke, nor is it a trivial matter for any institution—and business is going to be particularly impacted by it.

What Disney Destinations was doing was making decisions to provide their customers and those just interested in testing their services the means to control their own experience with Disney Destinations.The idea was simple.Provide online tools such as a trip planner so a family can plan its trip to a Disney property or through a Disney agency down to the details.They can identify the locations, length of stay, prices, extras, and means of travel, all in their own time, under their aegis.This would enhance the experience the customers had with Disney, making travel planning simple and not stressful—which as you know is a huge issue in travel planning.You know it, because you know how stressed you get.But this was just a harbinger of things to come less than a year later.Customers managing their own relationships was a step in the personalization of the customer’s experience with a company.But personalization of the experience was still insufficient, however important it can be.It was only a first step in what is now . . .

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