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Do customer-managed relationships play a role in CRM strategy?

Should customer-managed relationships be part of a CRM strategy? Read Don Pepper's advice here.

We all know about CRM, but have you heard of CMR? That is, customer-managed relationships. According to what I've read, this includes allowing your customer to choose when and where there will be a dialogue. Can you see the potential benefits to this scenario and could this be one way to start genuine relations with your customers?
Well, we agree with the idea, but we don't necessarily think you need a separate three-letter designator for customer-managed relationships. We think CRM is already a broad enough concept to encompass this kind of relationship. In fact, we have always advocated that you place the customer as much in charge as you can in the relationship. A relationship is inherently a two-way thing, so you can hope to be the "manager" of the relationship, but no matter how good you are you're still only managing your side of it. And your objective of course is to get the customer to change his behavior in a way that will be profitable and create value for you. But you have to do that by appealing to the customer's needs, by solving the customer's problem, by seeing things from the customer's perspective. When you take the customer's perspective, it makes a lot of sense to give the customer control over the nature of how the relationship is conducted.

So, for instance, one thing that's real obvious would be to let customers themselves tell you how to communicate with them. Some customers would prefer hearing from you by email, while others would prefer hearing from you by postal mail, let's say. Others would prefer simply interacting online, not hearing from you at all. So the more choice you can give the customer, the better off you're going to be in terms of managing the relationship. You're trying to manage the relationship for the benefit of your company. The customer has no interest in how your company benefits. The customer is only interested in how his problem or his need is addressed. Then that's the perspective you're going to have to take if you want the customer to do something. So I guess the short answer is, sure, CMR makes a lot of sense. We just don't think we need a three-letter designator for it. Got enough acronyms and jargon out there already.


Hear more in Creating Customer Value, a SearchCRM.com monthly podcast series with Peppers and Rogers.

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