CEM The Next Big Frontier

BusinessWorld, 30 May, 2013 - In a service driven economy, customer experience is king.

Did you ever imagine that somewhere your customer is realising an experience with your brand? And this realisation will soon turn into an opinion where you will be able to lock in your customer for a few more transactions. Today, we are living in a world where customer choices are increasing by the second and customer loyalty turning into a wish. So does customer experience management (CEM) offer a way out for organisations to remain profitably engaged with customers? Let’s find out.

CEM can be defined as managing customer interactions to build brand equity and improve long-term profitability. Businesses are discovering a strong connection between loyalty and customer experience. Today, CEM solutions are a competitive necessity. By reporting actionable intelligence, customer experience programs can optimise an organisation's customer service to give it a more competitive edge and create a more loyal customer base.

Traditionally CRM systems have helped firms understand customers. They have also helped unify customer information and offer an overarching view. CRM is mostly about transactions and is operationally focused on profiling the customer and collecting data for cross sell. More often than not, CRM is aligned with the company’s objectives and not necessarily to customer preferences. On the other hand, CEM is all about the customer and by using the right blend of systems, processes and infrastructure, it seeks to improve the customer’s experience with the company as an entity.

Ovum research suggests that with an increase in IT spending of 3.4 per cent, CIOs of the $118- billion IT industry are focusing on customer satisfaction and revenue growth. Moreover, a Forrester survey reports that in 2013, online retailers will get back to basics: By focusing on strategies and tactics to improve the customer experience, they will strive to increase loyalty and Web conversion across all devices.

In a service driven economy, the importance of customer experience cannot be underestimated. CEM adds a level of emotion to a product or service hitherto absent. In today’s markets, brands that succeed are the ones that draw on positive customer experience. So if you get it right, the rewards include loyalty and evolution of word of mouth brand ambassadors who can do lots of good for your product or service and ultimately improve profitability.

Customer experience strategy, design and execution will soon become a company’s core competency as well as a core tenet of every organisation’s culture. The more interactions an organization will have with its customers, the deeper the relationships they’ll create.

CEM Roadmap

Every customer interaction can lead to an experience. Customers sub consciously or otherwise organize a series of clues into a thought stream that finally feed into a set of impressions. Customer might sense or perceive or feel the absence of certain things and every product or service or the employee or the environment in which the offering is delivered offers vital clues for that are compiled in the mind of the customer and ultimately metamorphoses into an experience. Every interaction carries a clue within itself.

Listen

To the voice of the customer on a channel of her choice. Emotions constitute the bulk of any experience and by running proactive customer connect programs, customer perceptions should be collated, measured, analysed and addressed. Embed business analytics tools can help organizations look at transactional behaviour, purchase cycles, scope for reference and service expectations.

Create Benchmarks

Establish performance indices to study progress towards CEM. Select key indicators to study the impact that a CEM programme is having on your customers. By implementing a best-practices driven CEM framework and incorporating customer feedback, organizations can establish minimum customer satisfaction levels and work towards raising it at periodic intervals.

Target Multiple Channels

The more channels you target, the more chances are that you will hear from your customers. Any medium that allows or even incentivizes feedback should be on your radar.

Collate Best Practices And Knowledge

To offer a consistent experience and evolve a decision support framework in the organization. The data collected should be used to measure the impact various decisions are having on customer satisfaction and whether the organization is now in a position to leverage cross sell and up sell opportunities.

Actionable Insights

Any changes in customer behaviour, buying preferences or even lack of interaction must be studied and analyded to gain actionable insights that feed into the decision making framework to carry the customer experience forward.

Incentivise CEM Among Employees

Connect employee incentives to customer satisfaction. Employee training programs are an integral part of a CEM initiative. Every employee is a stakeholder when it comes to customer satisfaction and needs to be primed towards understanding customer needs and doing their bit to improve customer satisfaction. Brand managers also need to give realtime feedback to employees on brand health in the market. This will help them understand the significance of their roles in managing customer’s perception of their product and brand.

Raj Mruthyunjayappa, Managing Director APAC & EMEA, Talisma Corporation

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