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Customer experience management enhances branding and success

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Ensure a good customer experience with CEM software

CEM software helps companies track, measure and manage the customer experience. Read on to learn just how it differs from CRM software and what a good CEM system should include.

It's never been easier for customers to express both criticism and praise about a company through social media and review sites. A positive customer experience is more important for businesses than ever before. Organizations today realize the importance of improving the customer experience, and implementing CEM software is the biggest step in meeting this business need.

In its simplest terms, CX is the customer's perception and related feelings stemming from both single interactions and the cumulative effect of interactions with an organization's employees, systems, channels or products, starting at first contact and extending through the duration of the customer's relationship with the company. This includes how quickly and accurately the company fulfills customer orders, how customer service responds to complaints and, increasingly, how easy it is for customers to contact the company prior to purchase. Consumers have led the charge to access customer service via live chat, social media and text messaging; now, B2B buyers have begun to expect the same fast, efficient service from all companies as they enjoy from their favorite brands.

A successful CX program must bring together all parts of the organization, including human resources, supply chain operations and, of course, marketing and sales. Traditional customer relationship management (CRM) systems provide a foundation for marketing and sales departments and allow for some degree of personalization when sending offers. However, enterprises need to extend that personalization and degree of service throughout the entire organization to further serve their customers.

To coordinate a CX program, companies use customer experience management (CEM), a set of processes that track and optimize customer interactions throughout the customer journey, to improve the experience for their customers. CEM allows these organizations to gain insights into customer interactions and drive loyalty at every touch point, ultimately improving customer lifetime value.

CEM vs. CRM

Without CEM and CRM software, managing customer interactions is a daunting process. CRM software is well-established; in the early 2000s, it became a way for companies to both upsell and cross-sell to consumers and businesses by aggregating data from purchases and customer service queries. Many companies, from SMBs to Fortune 500 enterprises, use CRM software in some form to track sales, automate marketing tasks and the contact center, and provide a more holistic view of customers to employees.

CEM software goes a lot further by measuring the customer experience, which assists with recommendations to provide better customer service, ultimately helping drive sales and marketing efforts.

Its primary focus is essentially to manage communication with customers for inside sales teams. For example, a research firm may require its analysts as well as its sales team to log entries in the CRM system.

CEM software, on the other hand, provides a 360-degree view of the customer by capturing feedback from every customer interaction, including social media, to analyze and understand emerging trends and customer issues. It helps monitor, respond to and improve each stage of the customer experience.

But CEM software also goes a lot further by measuring the customer experience, which assists with recommendations to provide better customer service, helping drive sales and marketing efforts. Ultimately, this software helps manage the customer experience, not just track it.

The same 360-degree view that measures the entire customer experience can also provide information that enables multiple departments to serve the customer. The data that CEM software collects can also help to create personas and customer journey maps for marketing purposes as well as refine CX strategies, educate and train customer service representatives and design better experiences for customers, like personalized dashboards and portals for ordering and self-service. Ultimately, CEM software complements CRM software and can even integrate with it for the best results.

How CEM software works

Not all CEM tools are created alike. Platforms should include features that allow organizations to glean as much insight as possible from their customer data, from multiple touch points. The system should also enable the enterprise to provide customer-centric experiences regardless of where the customer interaction is happening, while at the same time, optimizing operations and control. Organizations should be able to comply with all applicable data privacy statutes and secure enterprise data regardless of the system.

Since enterprises install these tools to improve the customer experience, CEM software must also bring together technology, strategy and resources to do just that. This requires combining processes and customer feedback data together to create a complete view of the customer.

CEM software should be able to refine the customer journey through touch points. This spans not only web and online customer service channels, but also face-to-face contact and post-purchase interactions -- which can include complaints on social media.

Editor's note: With extensive research into the customer experience management market, TechTarget editors have focused this series of articles on vendors with considerable market presence that offer CEM software that is enterprise-facing rather than customer-facing. Our research included Gartner, Forrester Research and TechTarget surveys.

It is especially important for CEM software to be able to measure the customer experience across the customer journey. The Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) scores should be a given capability in any CEM system. These scores often serve as the foundation for many CEM software packages. But they don't necessarily work for every stage of the customer journey. For example, a customer may place a first order and provide the customer care agent with a high rating for the company -- but then something could go wrong in the supply chain, and that score wouldn't reflect the customer journey. These, along with the customer effort score (CES), are important metrics.

To get that 360-degree view of the customer, CEM software needs to gather and aggregate data from each and every touch point using the right metric at the right time and collecting feedback at every stage of the customer journey. These important metrics include customer loyalty, retention and churn; advocacy and reputation; quality and operations; and employee engagement. These all affect the customer experience, and assessing them properly can improve NPS, CSAT and CES metrics.

Using these metrics effectively will require the use of predictive analytics. For example, by collecting NPS or CES scores at every step of the buyer journey and comparing it to past data --  such as when the customer stopped purchasing -- companies can prevent customers from leaving the company by taking action to remedy their experience. Another use for predictive analytics is to anticipate customer needs and then provide offers based on those needs.

This was last published in March 2019

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