The title for this post is a question because I really would like to get some feedback on this idea. Is it time for the technology industry to provide a platform for Customer Experience Management?
For the past 10-15 years, CRM rode the tech hype for good and bad. The roots of CRM actually go back to the 1980s and the concept of “relationship marketing.” But it wasn’t until tech was introduced with direct/database marketing and then CRM that relationship marketing became productized.
The history of CEM is quite different. You can go back to 2+ decades to Jan Carlzon’s book “Moments of Truth” or maybe 10 years ago to “experiential marketing.” In neither case is tech the central focus. Around 2005 CEM seemed to take off as a buzzword, but since then it’s been mainly pushed by consultants as a strategy/methodology. In some cases tech can help, but it’s generally been a secondary issue.
Our research has found that most people think of CRM/CEM as a kind of left brain/right brain approach to customer relationships. CRM more analytic and internally focused and thus heavier on automation, and CEM more externally focused and more about people and their emotional response to interactions.
Just like real brains, it’s good to use both halves! One of my favorite examples is Best Buy, because they are very analytical inside to figure out the products that each store should carry and how to promote them (CRM), but are equally adept at hiring/training their staff to provide a great shopping experience (CEM).
Vendors have been slow to adopt CEM in their marketing, in part because a “CEM solution” doesn’t fit in one of those technology buckets that analysts like to create. And besides, not all experiences can or should be automated — think the retail shopping experience and interactions with staff on the floor.
RightNow was one of the first to really major on CEM in its messaging, going back 2-3 years now. The company sells a SaaS-based solution to improve customer service, which of course is one important experience. A few other vendors have pushed CEM marketing messages, including Genesys a couple of years ago. And some of the Voice of Customer vendors (e.g. Satmetrix, Tealeaf) are promoting their products as at least part of a CEM solution.
So there are plenty of CEM point solutions, or CRM solutions that can be used to support CEM. But there hasn’t been a concerted effort to create a technology category around CEM like CRM. That appears to be changing.
CEM going Tech?
Late last year, SAP unveiled a new go-to-market approach with CEM at the forefront. Much more than a marketing makeover and I think a significant development for CEM if they can pull it off. I will be interested to find out how this shift is progressing at the upcoming SAPPHIRE in Orlando.
More recently Adobe has been making some noise about a CEM “platform.” At a dinner hosted by Adobe yesterday we talked about the need for an “experience” layer to tie together end-to-end customer interactions across multiple channels. What this leads up to is the notion that large enterprises will require a “CEM platform” to bring order to the chaos that exists today in poorly integrated silos of CRM automation. Kind of a blend of BPM and composite apps, with a dash of content management and channel orchestration thrown in for good measure. Definitely NOT a warmed over CRM solution with a new label.
I have mixed feeling about tech vendors getting interested in CEM in a big way. On the one hand, technology can certainly help improve some experiences — in contact centers, web interactions or mobile. And bigger companies could use help with a platform or glue layer to avoid “touchpoint amnesia” and other problems that degrade the customer experience.
But it would be a shame for CEM to become just another tech buzzword and for people to think they can “install” it like CRM, forgetting about the role of people and emotion to make CEM really successful.
This is an important turning point for the CEM industry. So what do you think? Does the industry need a CEM platform? And if so, who are the players who are likely to provide it?