Don’t Get Left Behind: Leap Into CEM Fully


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In the last 18 months we’ve seen more than $500 million in investment in Customer Experience Management (CEM) software companies. The influx to CEM solutions comes from venture capital backing and/or the many acquisitions leading to consolidations across the space. Earlier this week it happened again as Medallia raised another $150 million in venture capital funding. Adding to this frenzy, experts such as Seth Grimes are closely following the space, predicting the emergence of a unicorn, like Clarabridge, and Gartner predicts that by 2016, 89% of companies will compete on customer experience.

So, as a consumer of CEM software, why should you care about these CEM market trends?

Simply put, you need to care because all signs point to a marketplace where every business needs to perfect the customer experience. We know investors follow the dollars and they clearly see long term value in improving customer experience. They realize that more and more businesses are betting on, or even doubling down their efforts around CEM and they want a share of this pie. In turn, this focus should make you wonder: are you doing all the right things to manage your customer experience? Do you have the right tools, processes, and people in place to continually drive a better customer experience? Are you already behind?

To answer this question for your business, dig a little deeper and ask if you have the key elements to a successful CEM program. Impactful CEM initiatives have three key components: executive buy-in, an understanding of the entire customer journey, and the ability to operationalize the data.

First, an executive sponsor for your CEM program may seem like a no brainer but it’s not always a reality. This recent article shows that without executive buy-in, your program may not be successful. Discrepancies and confusion can arise from the fact that nearly every function within an organization owns a piece of the customer experience, creating silos and conflicting changes that result in a degraded customer experience. Because your CEO is uniquely positioned to drive change, his championship of a program is critical.

Next, don’t fall into the “survey” trap. Gain the comprehensive view of your customer journey by pairing your survey results with every other form of customer feedback. The fact is that too many businesses rely only on a series of surveys to monitor the voice of the customer, but the reality is that surveys show such a small fraction of what’s really happening in your customer interactions. For a complete return on your CEM program investment, you need to understand the customer from all angles. You need to know how they learned about your company; how they interact with you before, during, and after their purchase; and the emotion and sentiment felt with every interaction with your company. This includes looking at social, call center, online review sites, and inbound emails in addition to your surveys and analyzing all of this data together to understand not only what your customers think, but why.

The most successful CEM programs look at customer feedback data from all channels to get an omni-channel view of the customer journey and their needs and feelings along the way. At Clarabridge, our must successful clients are the ones who are able to gain executive buy-in and break down these silos.

Finally, you need to distribute the data that you gather throughout your organization to ensure that everyone who touches the customer is in the know. We have coined the term “operationalize” to mean the distribution of this data and the creation of a programmatic way to help your employees not only fix the issues encountered by customers as soon as possible, but also drive strategic change across the business so that those issues are resolved once and for all. Many companies with mature CEM programs go even further by engaging with their customers to let them know what’s been done on their behalf. Our belief in the need to spread CX to the endpoints of your business led us to the acquisition of Engagor this past May and the launch of our latest technology CX Studio both of which enable large businesses to operationalize the voice of the customer.

In the end, whether you are looking at the hundreds of millions of dollars in investment in CEM or your own company’s investment in CEM, what you want to see is a return on investment. Keeping in mind these three components of a successful CEM program, consider carefully how you’re going to prove ROI and make sure you have the right partners to do so.

Susan Ganeshan
As leader of the Clarabridge marketing team, Susan defines the brand, leads the charge for educational, useful content, and enables both Clarabridge and our partners to promote and deliver on the promise of customer centricity. During her 25 year career, Susan has gained in-depth software experience spanning diverse roles including content marketing, product marketing, lead generation, event management, product management, engineering, quality assurance, implementation consulting, training, and sales support with organizations like newBrandAnalytics, webMethods and Software AG.


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