Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Customer Experience Management (CEM) is Now a Critical Part of CRM

It’s obvious that technology is tightly integrating into our day-to-day lives. This trend will only continue, and accelerate. It’s almost to the point now where we don’t even notice this technological coupling much anymore. It’s simply expected that any device we use today will have a common set of features – like internet connectivity, access to social networking, audio/video capabilities, cloud access, or telephony.

This is, of course, is self evident in the smart phone and mobile computing markets, but technology is also weaving itself into other areas of daily life: televisions, kitchen appliances, automobiles, furniture, even clothing. In the near future, most of our day-to-day devices and appliances will have a smart processor embedded and the ability to conform to our individual usage patterns. Imagine a coffee maker that turns itself on after it hears you shut off your alarm clock, or a refrigerator that automatically places your weekly grocery order – it’s pretty much a reality already.

So, what does this high level of technological integration mean to businesses with respect to CRM? It means that we have access to new information sources about our customers. We have new methods of measuring not only customer preferences, but customer behaviour. We can get an accurate measure of customer utility. We can truly visualize the demand curve and use it as a tool to grow our business and stay ahead of the competition. It means that the sales process doesn’t end with a sales order. Customers become more than just individuals. Each customer becomes their own entity. Regardless of a customer’s size, magnitude, or order volume, we have the ability to treat each customer individually and uniquely to fit their specific tastes. CRM solutions change from being a front-end / upstream system, to a holistic, over arching process that has no beginning or end. In fact, it’s not CRM anymore, it’s something else that hasn’t truly been named yet, only described – Customer Experience Management (CEM). It’s the next evolution of CRM, and it’s not that far away.

CEM differentiates itself from old CRM software in 3 ways:
i) Scope
ii) Longevity
iii) Intent

Scope
CEM is an all encompassing process in the enterprise. In fact, it reaches outside of the enterprise too. It’s not a process in the traditional sense – there is no formal beginning and end. It takes on a cyclic pattern where customers enter from any point and hopefully, never leave the circle.

Today’s CRM systems can handle half of CEM’s scope – the stuff that happens within the enterprise. CRM is good at integrating with back-end systems, service organizations, and customer service, but it’s not that good at seeing outside the enterprise. That’s where CEM comes in. CEM can handle things that happen outside the enterprise – measuring customer usage, behavior patterns, and utility. CEM will take advantage of technological integrations and use those as data points, which will in turn feed back into the enterprise.

Longevity
Traditionally, CRM has an expiration date. Once the sale is closed and the products/services are delivered, there’s generally a limited amount of customer interaction. CEM is different, because there is no end. As far as CEM is concerned, it will try and stay in touch with customers forever – not necessarily through direct means, but through subtly and finesse. In the future, customers’ behavior and interaction with devices and networks will allow businesses to locate and track certain patterns and events. This type of data can flow back into the CEM system and be used to generate new leads or create opportunities for up or cross-selling. Since this is an automated process, you won’t have to lose touch with customers, even if their preferences change. At any point, if your customer’s needs or preferences come into alignment with your business’s product offerings, the CEM system will identify it and let you know. CEM never stops looking for ways to earn you more revenue.

Intent
Customer experience management is not a ‘relationship’ management system; it’s an ‘experience’ management system. The intent of CEM is not to help you manage your customers, but instead, help your customers manage you. We’re talking about customer utility – what really makes your customer’s tick. How can you make their lives better? What can you do to make them come to you? That’s what CEM is trying to figure out. It’s the opposite approach of traditional CRM solutions. Instead of starting from inside the enterprise and working outwards, let’s start on the outside and figure out a path back in.

If you are ever fortunate enough to travel to Las Vegas and win big – I mean really big, the casino will usually offer you a complimentary, museum-like suite. You’ll have a private pool with Jacuzzi, a five-star kitchen, a personal masseuse, and, your very own butler. The butler’s job is to make your time at the casino a better one. No matter the size, magnitude, difficulty, ridiculousness, futility, or even legality of your request, the butler will never raise his voice, will never say no, will never disappoint. He will smile and say “Of, course. Right Away!” And he will make sure that you know that his only purpose in life is to make yours better. Now implement the butler into a software application, and you have the future of CRM – Customer Experience Management. It’s not that far away.


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