I was a bit reticent to take on this topic as the fourth part of this series on Customer Experience Management (CEM), because in my view it deals largely with perception, and the complexities thereof.

But here goes.

Many individuals equate CEM with Customer Relationship Management (CRM). I understand why this is the caseā€”and do believe the original intention of CRM was to focus strategically on five components of customer experience:

  • Customer
  • Environment
  • Brand
  • Platform (systems)
  • Interface

While many CRM initiatives attempt to address those components, many assume a highly operational, quantitative or technical bias. To illustrate this point, ask any executive to describe the tasks associated with CRM. You'll likely receive answers that align CRM with activities such as these:

  • Establishing/managing a customer management platform
  • Installing/configuring hardware, software, systems
  • Enabling use of customer management and response tools
  • Assessing, consolidating, and organizing (customer/sales) data
  • Operationally connecting and synchronizing channels
  • Attempting to align internal business process and policies
  • Translating programs and campaigns into new toolsets
  • Enabling centralized metrics and analytics capabilities

Perceptions about CRM have been partially created by systems integrators, who have served as active leaders in the development of CRM capabilities. Such firms place a strong emphasis on technology, data management, quantitative analytics, and operational alignment. These activities are necessary to lay the groundwork for technology-enabled customer management and have often overshadowed strategic branding, marketing, program development, interaction design, and other tasks.

The (operational, quantitative, and technical) perceptions of CRM are also shaped significantly by historical focus. Over the past several years, CRM efforts have centered on establishing and refining the infrastructures necessary to enable solid customer management.

The work has been highly operational in nature and involves the resolution of complex technology, process, and people issues. In the context of establishing these infrastructures, CRM practitioners have fought many important battles. A large number continue to rage today and focus on removing internal barriers (human, technology, policy, data, process) that can compromise customer experience.

Unfortunately, resolving these challenges forces so much attention on getting the corporate "internal house" in order, that they often compromise corporate efforts to develop, execute, and measure broad, cross-channel, cross-program, customer-centric strategies and plans.

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image of Leigh Duncan-Durst
Leigh Duncan Durst (leigh at livepath dot net) is a 20-year veteran of marketing, e-commerce, and business and the founder of Live Path (www.livepath.net).