A spoiler-free look at what Bandersnatch, Fortnite and the new era of interactive storytelling in film teaches us about the lost art of CRM, writes Charlotte Tullett, Senior Strategist at BBH London.

CRM is often seen as a functional hard-sell tool or a boring customer service channel. Within our industry the shiny elements of ‘customer experience’ and captivating 60 second TV ads steal the limelight from CRM. This has been going on for too long and it’s time for CRM to take it’s rightful place.

A new era is dawning in mainstream entertainment.  Netflix and Fortnite are going head-to-head as unlikely competitors because they’ve realised that offering entertaining, interactive stories as the key to retaining consumer attention and growing revenue.  Hold on, isn’t that what CRM is supposed to be doing?  What’s more, CRM is uniquely placed to do so in a personalised, episodic way.

CRM should be really exciting. The same principles that made Netflix’s interactive film Bandersnatch so engrossing sit at the heart of CRM. We design CRM journeys with tributaries and loops, just like Bandersnatch’s story. Whilst Bandersnatch might feel incredibly modern, it’s really not.  In CRM we’ve been doing user-directed storytelling for decades.

To live up to its true potential, CRM needs to make the most of all the brilliant opportunities that data, technology and narrative present. We’re nailing the first two, but need to work harder to make CRM episodes more compelling.

Frosties or Sugar Puffs?

Narrative plays a huge role in building memory structures, but it’s even more effective if you’re pro-actively in control of the narrative.

Both Bandersnatch and CRM show how technology and narrative can be inextricably tied together and as such CRM should sit at the heart of the customer experience. But to deserve this special place CRM needs to go beyond leveraging rich customer data to actually ensure that its content is emotionally engaging and just as compelling as the stories told in mainstream entertainment.