As a 27-year veteran of the CRM industry, I want to address the emerging integration of customer experience management (CEM) and CRM. While some of my colleagues suggest that CEM is making a play to capture the next CRM wave, I believe it is instead a critically important component of CRM.
Customer experience management focuses on understanding the experience at each step of a customer's journey. There are two parts to this journey.
The first is the experience the customer or prospect encounters when dealing with your organization (getting onto your Web site to learn about your products/services, ordering them, receiving them, using them, and/or resolving issues associated with them).
The second is the activities your organization needs to accomplish to sell to and service its customers profitably (preparing what will be shown on the Web site, providing an easy-to-use ordering capability, ensuring outstanding delivery of your products/services, and efficiently resolving issues associated with the use of your products/services).
A customer moment of truth occurs when the customer-initiated journey step and the organization-initiated journey step are in harmony. The more moments of truth, the better the customer experience.
Customer Journey Mapping
To optimize the customers' moments of truth, the best practice is to create "customer journey maps." Here's an example of how ISM is currently working with a B2C customer to create a customer journey map. This methodology typically takes 60 to 90 days to complete.
Step 1: Segment existing customers into clusters based on demographic, behavioral, and/or lifestyle segmentation criteria (preferably all three).
Step 2: Brainstorm with organization personnel to determine possible steps in an optimal customer journey, regardless of the cluster to which that customer belongs.
Step 3: Interview a statistically significant number of customers within each cluster.
Step 4: Refine the customer journey maps by cluster to reflect what you have learned in your Step 3 interviews.
Step 5: Validate the updated maps by cluster with additional customers within each cluster.
Step 6: Place each customer within a cluster on a "customer touch track" based on your best customer's behavior and expectations. This will optimize the moments of truth and ensure that your organization is able to take the necessary actions to be rewarded with additional revenue, reduced costs, and increased customer satisfaction, advocacy, and loyalty.
The methodology is logical, but is also fraught with the typical challenges every CRM initiative faces. Is there an owner for your customer experience process? Is the process well documented? Is it implemented consistently? Does it support your organization's long-term goals? Does your organization regularly survey customers regarding their experience? Is there a proper customer experience training program in place? Is a customer experience communications plan in place? Are rewards and incentives used to help drive customer experience success? There's also the technology factor: How well does your CRM vendor application deal with customer experience issues? Is it supporting the integration of customer experience journey mapping within the application? Is the data coming from these maps flowing seamlessly into the customer profiles within your CRM system?
Customer experience is just one component of your CRM strategy. Others are long-term customer growth, satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy. CEM does contribute to these components and in turn to your CRM strategy, but CRM is the larger umbrella under which CEM is covered. I believe that now is the time for companies, as well as CEM and CRM vendors, to understand the emerging integration of CEM and CRM and work together to optimize these efforts.
Barton Goldenberg (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president and founder of ISM Inc., a consulting firm that applies CRM, social CRM, and social media to successful customer-centric business strategies. He is the publisher of The eGuide to Mobile and Social CRM (18th edition).