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DSC Tech Library

CRM Solutions

CRM Customer Relationship Management This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to CRM Solutions and Customer relationship management software and products. Providing customer service is vital to maintaining successful business relationships. Accurate and timely information provided in a professional manner is the key to any business and service operation. Our CRM software application TELEMATION, was developed with this in mind. But the ability to change is just as important in this ever changing business environment. Telemation call center software was designed from the very beginning for this environment. Many call center managers, with unique and changing requirements, have chosen and continue to use our CRM software as their solution of choice. Our contact center CRM solution is ideally suited for call center service bureaus.

When Brands Become Invisible

By: Stephen Shaw, VP CRM Strategy, Go Direct

To reach the consumers of the future, brand marketers will first have to reach out to them

In the crime thriller “Minority Report”, set 50 years in the future, Tom Cruise’s character goes into a Gap store where a retina scan of his eyes triggers the smiling image of a woman on a large video monitor who greets him by saying: “Good afternoon, Mr. Yakamoto, how did you like that three-pack of tank tops you bought last time you were in?".

The movie depicts a totalitarian world in which digital marketing has grown so pervasive that consumers are oblivious even to animated billboards that shout out to them by name as they pass. Farfetched? Not given today’s marketing culture, where intrusiveness is mistaken for intimacy. But there’s another reason to think it could happen: broadcast TV may no longer be an effective option for advertisers.

The households of the future are likely to be cloaked by ad avoidance technologies. Even today the lowly VCR can be programmed to automatically advance past commercials on playback. And more versatile digital devices like Personal Video Recorders, just now infiltrating the marketplace, will make it even easier to zap ads (in fact, 70% of PVR owners already do so). Eventually, they’ll be commonplace, forever changing the way people watch TV.

If no one watches commercials anymore it will effectively mean the end of mass marketing, stranding those brands that kept advertising on free TV in the forlorn hope that someone was watching. As Michael Lewis points out in his book “Next”: “For the big brands, life without television is no life at all”. Since brands have traditionally been built on high visibility, what will happen when they become invisible?

To earn the privilege of proximity, brands will have to shift from the “sell or else” mentality of the past to “sell and something else”. They will have to prove to consumers that they can enrich (or enliven) their circumstances; win their attention through sponsored pay-for-view programming (almost the way broadcast advertising began); create on-demand content that will be actively sought out; and, above all, be perceived as sharing their values. The job of persuasion will go on but in a more disarming way (as in “Just Do It”, not “Do As I Say”).

To make that transition, brand marketers must toss away the catechism of the Four Ps: worry less about slipping behind the defenses of consumers and more on becoming their ally. The new dogma will be all about elevating the customer relationship through action, not abstraction. Push and pull tactics will become subordinate to obliquely conveying the spirit of the brand. War metaphors will fall out of favour. Markets will be defined largely by passions instead of demographics. And the ideal relationship state will be defined as mutual commitment, with the reward being conditional access.

A modest example of this philosophy was a recent event staged by a leading manufacturer of blood glucose meters for diabetics. At a convention of diabetes educators, who strongly influence product choice, the company succeeded in filling a hall with hundreds of delegates to watch a stirring appearance by a series of accomplished entertainers, all of whom suffer from diabetes. The brand name was discreetly transparent and none of the performers offered any endorsement messages. Yet the next day many of the caregivers who attended could be overheard raving about the event to their colleagues, sending a subliminal message through their ranks that here was a company who cared as much about their patients as they did.

Offering inspiration is certainly one way of declaring a communion of interest; another is to own a branded knowledge domain. A portal can be built that serves up aggregated, hard-to-get information for a particular customer segment (like FedEx does with its Small Business Centre) – even to offer self-paced tutorials and mentoring (similar to Hewlett’s Packard’s Learning Centre). Yet another way is to champion a worthy cause, as Ben & Jerry’s has done with its One Sweet Whirled campaign, teaming up with environmental advocates to push for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, along with a promise to cut back its own plant-generated carbon dioxide levels by 10%.

All of these examples are expressions of a new relationship model which has these attributes:

  • Participatory – Since innovation is the key to longevity, brands need to cultivate a more democratic climate where consumer ideas and feedback are openly invited and where they can overhear customers talk about their experiences.
  • Humanistic - The brand must identify with the social outlook of its customers and consider ways to contribute, even indirectly, to their beliefs or causes.
  • Experiental – Brand relevancy is achieved by becoming synonymous with the interests and lifestyles of consumers, going beyond cognitive reasoning to reach them on sensory and affective levels.
  • Accommodating – Media fragmentation demands neutrality. No single channel should prevail unless the economics are overwhelmingly lopsided. A balanced approach gives customers the freedom to choose.
  • Transparent – Consumers will be highly selective in determining their brand repertoire; to be chosen, the terms of reciprocity must be clear and explicit.
In adopting this model, the traditional brand building process has to play a secondary role to escorting customers through the major lifecycle stages (acquisition, development and retention). The objective is to dream up the ultimate experience from the viewpoint of a customer; then practical thought is given to how that ideal can be realized.

The process should kick off with a one-day ideation workshop around the theme of creating a distinctive customer experience. What are the minimum expectations of customers? Their aspirations and beliefs? The barriers to progression from one stage to another? The gaps between desire and experience? And what are the opportune moments to insert a memorable experience that will have a lasting halo effect? Finding the right answers is not just a brain teasing exercise for the marketing group: it demands cross-functional input since the solutions are likely to spill across operational boundaries. The output is an actionable vision statement which describes the continuum of experiences that should define the relationship from beginning to end – articulates what the “Wow” factor should be.

If brands succeed in adopting a communal relationship model, the marketing world they create half a century from now will look a lot different than the one imagined in the “Minority Report”.

Stephen Shaw, VP CRM Strategy, Go Direct
Stephen Shaw is the Vice President, CRM Strategy for JWT-owned Go Direct. He can be reached at 416-695-4286 or via email: