Return on Behavior Magazine
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Customer Experience

September 25th, 2009

Good relations between your CRM and CEM

As promised in the previous edition - Michael Leander Nielsen and TeleFaction provides you insights on how CRM and Customer Experience Management work effectively together.

Fact: CRM - Customer Relationship Management - is suffering from myriads of misconceptions.

Fact: CEM - Customer Experience Management - is likely to suffer from misconceptions as well.

Action: You need to understand how CRM and CEM relate to each other, and how to include a CEM strategy in your overall customer strategy framework.

Some people think that CRM is merely a set of IT tools or applications. Others consider CRM as a business strategy. I believe CRM is, first and foremost, a business-customer strategy. It deals with all the important aspects of your business relationship with your customers. Ideally it is creating a framework for customer- driven organizations.

A great CRM strategy is formed by looking outside in, from the point of view of the customers and prospective customers. Once you understand the expectations of your customers, you can decide on the best approaches, and implement the internal processes necessary to effectively manage those customer expectations.

Successful CRM strategy implementations are rare
In actively pursuing the design and execution of an effective CRM strategy, corporations must deal with questions related to customer satisfaction and loyalty, churn, share of wallet, customer lifetime value, customer profitability segements, and effective alignment of business processes. The objective is to provide maximum value and convenience by getting to the point of being a customer-oriented organization.

Successful CRM strategy implementations are rare. The reason is quite simple. More often than not, the focus is on IT tools, rather than on people and customers. There is too much emphasis on technology, data management, quantitative analytics, and operational alignment. While these activities are necessary to lay the groundwork for technology-enabled customer management, these have also often overshadowed strategic branding, marketing, program development, interaction design, not to mention the actual process of being truly customer-oriented.

CEM Strategy - part of your overall CRM framework
CEM strategy focuses heavily on detailed customer (demographic, behavioral, ethnographic, profitability, etc.) and environmental (market, channels, competition) exploration and analysis. This analysis is used to design broad, detailed, integrated experience strategies that answer customer needs and market opportunity. These same strategies are further detailed into plans of multiple, integrated programs and campaigns. CEM strategies and plans help shape new products and services. They refine and align customer interfaces. And they integrate the operational platform, i.e. people, process, technology, through which customer experience is delivered, managed and measured, including tools and schedules.

While Customer Experience Management is still somewhat uncommon in Northern Europe, it seems that more and more companies are jumping onto the wagon. By focusing on how your company can improve the total customer experience through a CEM strategy, you will be able to address emerging markets needs directly, while attempting to circumvent the perceptual biases of CRM. This might help remedy many of the issues created by operationally-focused CRM programs. It is likely that CEM methodologies will enable business stakeholders to effectively conceive, own, and manage next-generation customer experiences. I believe that CEM will have a transformative impact on companies, since the customer-centric alignment and planning will naturally help focus business effort.

5 important questions to ask yourself
In order to effectively include a CEM strategy in your overall customer, or CRM, strategy, here are 5 important questions to ask yourself .

  1. How can our existing CRM infrastructure help us manage the customer experience?
  2. How can we establish effective CRM tools to deliver great customer experiences based on the point of view of our consumers?
  3. Are our CRM initiatives offering sufficient support to our front-line employees, particularly in providing tools to proactively serve our customers?
  4. Are we well aware of customer differentiation, and do we have the tools to increase the service and convenience level of our most important customers?
  5. Are we constantly monitoring the well-being of our customer base?
    a) Have we established a sufficient system of listening posts able to report the day-to-day well- being of our customers?
    b) Are we able to integrate results of individual customer experiences with our CRM tools, and have the pertinent data readily available across all customer touch points?

If you want to know more about how your CEM strategy can become part of your CRM strategy, feel free to contact Michael Leander Nielsen, Customaxi: mln - at -

The acronyms CRM and CEM are used in a complimentary and, at times, somewhat interchangeable fashion. Gartner Group, for instance, seems to leverage CEM as a skill set or practice within CRM. And I agree. CEM should be (an important) part of your overall Customer Strategy, and as such should be addressed within your CRM initiatives.

About the Author

Micheal Leander Nielsen

Michael Leander Nielsen, CEO of Fokus Integrated, is a customer lifecycle marketing automation expert  and a marketing innovator. He is also an author and a speaker on subjects such as marketing automation, marketing performance metrics, customer strategies and effective internet marketing strategies. More information about Michael Leander Nielsen:

Meemoo2 - A blog for Marketing managers

Marketingboss TV Channel - hundreds of edutaining, educating, inspirational videos and films

With more than 20 years of managerial and operational experience from three continents, Danish born Michael Leander Nielsen is an integrated marketing expert and a marketing innovator. 

Today he spends his time with ambitious companies and organizations, providing consulting services in a range of specialised marketing fields. He is an expert in the fields of integrated marketing, marketing automation and productivity programs, internet marketing, push and pull strategies, lead relationship management strategies, customer experience strategies and strategies for growth and internationalization.

From newspapers to marketing, internet and CRM
Ever since his first "real job" soliciting subscriptions to The Delray and Boynton Beach News Journal door-to-door in sunny Florida, his career has included some 10 years in the marketing/publishing industry, and approximately 10 years in the IT software and IT distribution industry. 

Combining experience from the client side and the consulting/agency side, and having consulted to major-league clients across a variety of industries, Michael is a highly insightful, innovative and productive top-level marketing consultant.

Speaker, educator and mentor
He has spoken at hundreds of seminars and conferences, written hundreds of articles, lectured at numerous educational institutions, and is frequently quoted in leading marketing and IT industry publications in several countries.  Moreover, he proudly assists talented entrepreneurs in a capacity as board and/or advisory board member to share his experience in a mentor capacity. Check out his upcoming speaking engagements here 


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