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CEM vs. CRM: Which platform is best for your business?

Businesses must be familiar with CEM and CRM if they want to improve customer experience. While these acronyms sound similar, they are different.

Businesses need to keep track of a lot of customer information, but they also need to know how to use that information...

to create great customer experiences.

Customer experience management (CEM or CXM) and customer relationship management (CRM) are both important technologies for organizations. Both are tools for keeping track of customer data, but there are differences.

Businesses should know the differences of CEM vs. CRM before they decide which software to incorporate.

What is CEM?

CEM is the combination of processes a company uses to oversee all interactions between customers and the organization, with the goal of building and enhancing customer loyalty.

Businesses must have a customer-centric strategy that presents a 360-degree view of the customer. They can use customer segmentation to organize consumers based on their interests, then create a customer journey map to predict future interactions with the brand. Businesses must use the information they gather about their consumers to create a brand personality and foster a relationship with the customer.

Comprehensive CEM software incorporates four major components: e-commerce, CRM, marketing automation and customer service. Successful CEM systems also collect customer feedback so CX teams know which aspects of the customer experience need to improve.

CEM strategies rely on various tools to improve the customer experience. For example, companies can use emotional analytics software to analyze the success of customer service strategies. By collecting customer feedback and analyzing customer behaviors, businesses can better measure the effectiveness of their CEM strategy.

The top vendors for CEM software include Qualtrics, Adobe, SAP and Salesforce.

What is CRM?

CRM refers to the different practices and strategies businesses use to manage customer interactions with a company. CRM systems gather and store customer data from all points of contact, including the company's website, phone, live chat, mail, marketing materials and social media.

CRM systems equip customer-facing staff with a consumer's personal information, purchase history and buying preferences that employees can use to provide high levels of service and drive sales. Businesses can also use data from a CRM to determine how likely a customer is to recommend a product and how satisfied they are with the experience to develop marketing campaigns and customer service strategies.

The top CRM vendors include Salesforce, Microsoft, SAP and Oracle. These vendors offer on-premises and cloud-based options. Open source CRM options include HubSpot, Freshsales and SuiteCRM.

Comparing CRM and CX
Comparing CRM and CX

Differences between CEM and CRM

CEM is how the company looks to the customer. Various parts of the overall brand experience, including how the customer interacts with the company, the customer's emotional connection to the business and their feedback on their experience, all contribute to CEM. CEM software collects and analyzes customer interactions, and can also monitor and respond to each stage of the customer journey. CEM software can integrate with CRM systems for more accurate results.

CRM, on the other hand, is how a customer looks to a company. When the business knows what the customer looks like -- from their various points of contact with the organization -- CRM software can manage, track and change its sales, marketing and service strategies based on the customer's actions. Businesses can use the data from a CRM to personalize emails or advertisements and provide customer service representatives with accurate information to assist consumers. 

Deciding between CRM or CEM software

While CRM and CEM software can be bought separately, businesses can benefit from using the two systems together to increase sales, retain customers and improve overall customer experience. Most customer experience management platforms include CRM software, enabling companies to easily bring the two concepts together under one platform.

Businesses looking to incorporate CRM software, CEM software or both into their everyday functions must identify the challenges the company is facing, then determine how this software will address those issues.

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