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B2B Marketing

Customer Experience Management: Connecting at a Deeper Level

Move over CRM, here comes CEM.


Customer experience management is the process that creates an engagement through awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, cultivation and, ultimately, advocacy. This new paradigm is becoming the measuring stick that separates competitors, as limited price differentiation and product commoditization become the norm in a saturated business environment.


Bloomberg Businessweek Research Services conducted a recent poll, which revealed that 80% of CMOs indicated that customer experience is one of their top strategic priorities; however, when asked to rate their current strategy, only 20% indicated their ability to deliver a differentiated experience as “acceptable”.


According to TeleTech, a global business process outsourcing company, there are four criteria for developing a successful CEM strategy:

  • Reliability – Adhering to promises made (quality, delivery, support, etc.)
  • Convenience – Offering choice, consistency and timeliness
  • Responsiveness – Listening to customers and responding quickly and completely
  • Relevance – Ensuring that the offer is meaningful and personalized


Multimedia technology allows marketing executives to engage customers in ways that, until recently, were the domain of the salesperson. Two-way communications provide data flow that not only can be organized and disseminated but make an enterprise more responsive to both collective and individual demands.


Through CEM an enterprise connects at a deeper level. Interactions must consistently be customer-centric and personalized. Trust, accountability and opportunity for feedback provide the foundation for a positive customer engagement. Customers must have opportunities to express satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) at multiple times and through multiple channels. Mobile technology is perhaps the most convenient; however, mobile channels must not be the only feedback option.


Customer loyalty is a by-product of the engagement experience, both physically and digitally. The use of digital, social and mobile media have expanded CRM beyond a one-way dialogue to a holistic approach across multiple channels and devices.


CEM has two discernable contexts: direct-use experience and subconscious experience. The direct-use experience context can vary across and within industries. For example, the direct-use engagement for a car rental company may last 24 hours to several days, whereas an auto dealership engagement lasts for years. Retail clothing stores have up to an hour or two to complete a direct-use engagement, while garment manufacturers have a more extended direct-use timeframe.


The more challenging context to manage is the subconscious experience. How can a multiple touch point strategy embed a brand in a consumer’s mind? By delivering value and creating trust. Brand loyalty comes through a series of positive experiences, not through one-off exchanges. On the other hand, loyalty can be lost quickly with only a single bad experience.


The more successful CEM-focused enterprises execute marketing strategies that connect with customers on a more anthropologic level. Where does the company sit within its customers’ perspectives? CEM success is a result of an appeal to rational, emotional and subconscious motivations.


The holistic approach of CEM involves the entire enterprise. The Harvard Business School developed a Service Delivery Model which follows the lifecycle of customer experience through an internal and external hierarchy. It shows that satisfaction delivery is routed through a coordinated effort to build loyalty across multiple relationships: supply chain, partners, employees and customers.


The Harvard model states that profitability and, ultimately, growth are a result of customer loyalty. Customer loyalty is a result of experiential satisfaction influenced by value propositions across channels. Value is created through satisfied, productive and loyal employees. Employee satisfaction is derived from support services, policies, and vendor and partner relationships that allow an employee to flourish and be most productive. Without an enterprise-wide approach a CEM strategy is likely to fail.


The goal of a CEM strategy should be to move the customer from satisfied to loyal then from loyal to advocate. This can only be achieved by establishing and occupying a space deep within your customers’ psyche.

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