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How does customer experience management (CEM) fit into a company’s overall CRM strategy? Where does CEM start and stop? I’m still a little fuzzy on what some analysts consider CEM, especially when compared to CRM. It also doesn’t help that many in the CRM industry are trying to reclassify their CRM solutions as CEM offerings to appear fresh and cutting-edge. Unfortunately, those self-serving moves don’t do much but clutter an industry already rife with acronyms. (See the February 2006 issue’s Front Office column, “Experiences Versus Relationships.”)
There are instances, however, when primarily focusing on the experience makes sense, as part of an overall strategy regarding customer relationships. While there may still be some overlap between CEM and CRM, our cover story—“No Substitute for Experience,” by Assistant Editor Christopher Musico—aims to resolve the confusion. The article, which begins on page 22, has some of the best examples that I’ve seen of what CEM should be.
One of those examples involves a mystery shopper reporting on a customer interaction. The shopper not only evaluates employee performance, but assesses the entire customer experience, including the value of personnel, processes, and technologies encountered during the experience. This approach enables an organization to see all the pieces of the customer experience, through the customer’s eyes. Simple things—such as bad lighting, an unclean environment, and long lines—might agitate customers or make them uncomfortable, but this valuable information may not come to light in company-sponsored feedback. Some customers simply don’t care to lodge a complaint.
The same is especially true for Web-site visitors on cursory fact-finding missions, which is why clickthrough analysis is another helpful CEM solution. Some companies already know this. “US Airways has nearly a half million unique visitors per day to its Web site. Clearly, with so many people visiting the site, it is important to fix any technical glitches quickly so customers can find the information they need,” Musico writes.
US Airways is not going to create relationships with each unique visitor. That’d be an overwhelming waste of time, money, and resources. However, the company realizes that it’s important to create positive experiences for all site visitors, whether they are customers or not. This will go a long way in helping the organization not only maintain existing customer relationships but establish new ones when customers indicate they’re ready.
Great relationships must start somewhere, and positive experiences are necessary, not only as a first step but as an ongoing strategy.
Whether you’re looking to create positive customer experiences or develop great customer relationships, consider attending our first Customer Executive Forum in Scottsdale, Ariz., on April 18. Spearheaded by Lior Arussy—president of CRM/CEM consultancy Strativity Group, regular CRM magazine columnist, and author of Excellence Every Day (published by Information Today, Inc.)—the forum will help attendees make customer experience a viable and profitable reality within their organizations. For more information, visit www.CustomerExecutiveForum.com.
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