The shift to customer experience management (CEM) solutions away from customer relationship management (CRM) is more than a semantic difference or tech marketing gimmick. It signals a broader change in how companies are looking to not only improve their sales, loyalty and retention – but to also make their customers happier.

There are now CEM platforms on the market that are positioned to replace outdated CRM solutions because they enable companies to take the broader experience-based view across various channels. CEM solutions are designed to produce actionable insights which are squarely targeted on streamlining, enriching, and personalizing all of the customers’ interactions with the brand in a holistic way.

Beyond the sales focus of CRM, these customer experience management solutions are combining social, digital marketing, brand management, service, and sales together. The customer’s actions and wants are of foremost importance, and data on customer metrics serves to alter strategy, product offerings, and a company’s critical business functions. CEM is fundamentally about getting more out of existing platforms and channels – turning the vast information into a roadmap for improved customer experiences.

Driving Forces behind the CRM-to-CEM Shift

Pushing the need for CEM are various customer expectations and the influence of mobile devices:

  • Customers expect convenience and seamless and intuitive UI. Consider well-designed mobile apps that allow consumers to complete a task on-the-go and quickly move on with their daily life.
  • Personalization is desired, especially when it’s seamless and happens on the back-end. Customers want to control their accounts through personalized dashboards, or have product recommendations that really make sense. Brands that do not personalize offerings (or don’t do it in a refined way) risk presenting a dull and non-personal experience.
  • Customers have all the information. Brands cannot rely on customers to have limited knowledge of competitive offerings when the knowledge is in their phone or tablet. Brands need to make the experience and the engagement the differentiator in cases where the product or service doesn’t stand out.

Key Attributes of Leading-Edge CEM

Quality customer experience management platforms will take into account customer behaviors, for example how a customer uses an application, or what bottlenecks exist for an online signup process. Customer actions should be combined with customers’ thoughts about the brands services so companies have a baseline on current satisfaction levels. Surveying and watching users and then analyzing the resulting data is crucial for CEM ROI. And CEM has to be a central point for multiple channels of information, including web, mobile, social, email, apps, and ecommerce. Improving the customer experience is only possible if every channel is improved and streamlined. A single channel gap can ruin the entire exercise.

Other essential features of CEM solutions include:

  • CEM provides companies with a 360-degree view of the customer along with actionable insights. CRM is mainly focused on data and process, for example “did sales send the prospect a 2nd follow-up email,” instead of metrics that show customer satisfaction.
  • Multiple language capabilities are important, especially as demographics in the US continue to change and service-based companies can easily transcend geographic boundaries. CEM technologies can compile data from multiple languages and provide single-language insights.
  • A fully web-based UI, with personalized dashboards and the ability to view specific customer actions as well as aggregated experience-based data points.

Given the expectations of customers for fun, engaging, and streamlined interactions, companies cannot expect to “go it alone” when it comes to the customer experience. Software designers and developers can’t provide the whole picture, and firms should look to partner with an IT solutions firm that can guide them on the right solutions and structure so the brand can connect with customers.

So, is CEM the new CRM? Companies would do well to consider it much more than “CRM 2.0” as CEM represents the need for every department and initiative need to focus squarely on the customer’s and their experience.

Thought Leadership: