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CRM is not retention by extraordinary means

When we think about what the future holds for CRM in light of such innovations as the rapid integration of artificial intelligent, we should also consider our history and human nature. These two concerns are not always in a positive way.

It wasn’t long ago that some vendors were accused of abusing CRM. While we may have overcome some of these concerns, it never hurts to keep an eye out for the weather.

Some vendors used CRM applications, particularly in service desks, to reject or drive away customers who were seeking resolution of product and services issues.

This was a simple thing to do. The basic tactic used is to direct a customer into a “doom loop” where they can choose options, but never progress. You’ve probably been there. You detour even when you’re sure that you’re being taken to an actual person. It used be worse. Sometimes, the “CRM system” would just disconnect you.

This vicious circle spawned the movement “real person” as a result of customers’ requests to speak with agents in human services. Some clever troublemakers published the sequences that you had to enter in order to get through phone hell.

CCR Abuse

AI has a part to play in the vast improvements of service systems today. With modern CRM, customers are more empowered than ever to manage their own service processes. But not always. Money seems to be the problem.

Have you recently tried to cancel an subscription?

If you go to the website of the company, click on “Account” and then even further, you will see a screen with all the information about your account. However, it does not include the renewal date or the option to cancel.

Then you could be sent to another location to repeat the procedure. The process is too complicated and involves a lot more steps. In the end, it’s easier to just ignore the issue because you don’t have the time and are busy with other issues.

It’s not just big businesses that do this. I was surprised to find out that smaller companies are more likely to use what I will call “extraordinary” means to keep customers. You could also call this CRM abuse.

Subscription Friction Can Be Anti-CRM

In just this past year, I went to my credit card provider to get a refund for a payment made by a vendor that I vehemently refused. The vendor renewed my contract despite all of my efforts to cancel.

This is not the primary work of credit card companies. So I wonder how much longer we will have to wait before the credit card companies stop wanting to be involved in disputes.

This may not be a huge concern because canceling a card is an option and card companies are still likely to want to prevent unnecessary churn. The vendor-customer relation is strained, and CRM was designed to help reduce this friction.

In a sense, fighting about subscription cancellations doesn’t actually constitute CRM because the technology could be easily homemade or a billing issue. The tactics of retaining customers at all costs violates the spirit of CRM, which we have been working on for over two decades.

Clean Good-Byes

Customers might be more selective when it comes to choosing a business partner if unsubscribing from services becomes harder. It’s an old idea, with caveat emptor. The relative freedom to purchase something online to test it out is essential to the health of our economy and the growth in nascent sectors.

It’s important to know how to cleanly disengage when something doesn’t go as planned. Creative destruction is necessary if some businesses cannot make this model work.

CRM was created and designed with the goal of reducing friction in many interactions. We all want to avoid the retrograde act of clinging onto customers by using extraordinary methods.