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Customer Services

CRM and CEM Integration

It is important to understand that CRM (Customer Relationship management) applications primarily benefit the company, not the customer. CRM’s primary function is to automate marketing and sales activities in order to increase efficiency and accuracy and also to integrate post-sales services to create a seamless sale and service process.

A CRM application pushes information from the company out to the customer and to the employees who provide after-sale support.

A typical CRM application will include:

  • Call Center automation
  • Campaign planning and management
  • Customer retention
  • Sales force automation
  • Shopping analysis

On the other hand Customer Experience Management (CEM) applications pull information about the customer into the organisation; mainly information about how the customer perceives his or her interactions with and treatment by the company. It stands to reason that integrating CEM and CRM information and analysing it for insights closes the loop for the next CRM information push.

A typical CEM application will include:

  • Complaint handling
  • Customer advisory board
  • Customer satisfaction research
  • Dissatisfaction analysis
  • Focus group research
  • Mystery shopper research
  • Usability design and testing

CEM, however, must monitor customer experience from offer through post-sales service because customers do not compartmentalise their experience; either they got what they wanted or they didn’t.

CRM and CEM integrate to give the customer and the company the best mutual experience possible. The customer is able to get what he needs, in a way that he considers convenient, speedy, and reasonably priced. The company makes a sale, builds trust with the customer, and invites–maybe even motivates–repeat business.

Customer strategy is the key driver for CRM and CEM. Whether product-centric or customer-centric, a company can develop benefit from CRM and CEM. The nature of the application and will differ wildly, though.

The greatest risk investing in CRM and CEM comes from not understanding whether the company is product-driven or customer-driven, particularly if purchasing vendor packages to support the programs. The risk is that the vendor’s assumptions about “customer” conflicts with the company’s. Misalignment reduces return on investment, confuses or alienates customers, and potentially invokes cynicism and mistrust among employees when you fail to walk the talk.

But knowing whether information will be pushed to or pulled from the customer is not the only consideration when determining whether an application is CRM or CEM. CEM depends on intent; if the intent of the application is to walk a mile in the customer’s shoes, it is CEM.

Treating CEM and CRM as a one-time project is defensive, but treating them as integral to the way you do business is offensive. Build capabilities incrementally in response to real business pains and problems but knowing that each project is a foundation for the next increment, and risks will be manageable and the value imminent.

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