What is Customer Experience Management?


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Customer experience management is an enigma. Ask 3 people what it means and you’ll probably get 4 different answers. Is it a suite of products? A set of best practices? A system or platform? A program or initiative? Adding to the confusion are a plethora of vendors claiming to be leacustomer experience managementders in “it”, who peddle a variety customer experience elixirs that are sure to turn satisfied customers into loyal ones and loyal customers into giant money bags. Observing all of this has inspired me to reflect on the subject and ponder the question of, “What is customer experience management?” I would like to try and define it, before a vendor does it for me.

I believe the issue with defining and understanding customer experience management is that it, all too quickly, gets tied to words like revenue and profit. This begins to distort the meaning of the phrase. I perceive that we are being brainwashed into thinking that customer experience management (CEM) is a product or a solution that you buy, which delivers rapid return on investment. Instead, I believe that CEM is something that you do, an activity that you engage in… an endeavor that you and your organization embark upon.

Case in point: let’s look at CRM. It began as a well-intentioned concept, but has slowly digressed to represent a commodity. It’s hardly about customer relationships anymore. The true spirit of customer relationship management is gone and what’s left behind is “desktop software” designed to help agents and enterprises. What happened to the customer?

To prevent a CRM redux, I propose we embrace the spirit of the phrase and actually manage the customer experience. But how? Well, it doesn’t have to be overly complicated.

  1. Customer journey mapping helps us understand the customer experience through visual depiction. I highly recommend it. Digging a layer deeper into the journey map allows you to identify process dead ends and points of frustration where customer progress is impeded. Use all of your senses as you track down your customers’ journey in and around your organization. A company called Click Fox has interesting tools that can help with this. I did not say Click Fox was a CEM company or that they sell CEM products. Rather, I said that they offer tools to assist you. My hope is that you see the difference.

  2. Deploy processes and/or technologies that remove obstacles so that customers can achieve their goals with your organization. Don’t just improve completion rates…improve time-to-task completion rates. Empower CSRs at every level. In other words, help customers win. Help them achieve more. For example, our company, VHT, created the Conversation Bridge to help customers plow through self-service dead ends by offering callback with context so that CSRs can quickly and easily help stranded customers. Once again…a tool and technique that becomes part of a broader management system.

  3. Measure results and create tight feedback loops using simple, meaningful methods. I personally like Net Promoter Score because it is both simple and meaningful. It can be used in a broad sense as well as on a transactional level. In addition, there is a growing amount of research linking NPS to long term growth and profitability…so, for all the numbers driven executives out there who live and die by revenue and profit, you have an instrument as well as the research to justify your investments in ongoing customer experience management activities (which you already know in your gut is the right thing to do). A company like Satmetrix has great tools to help with this.

We don’t want CEM to turn into a noun, cliché or commodity, like CRM did. So, here is the answer to my original question…what is customer experience management? In my opinion, customer experience management is the discipline of continually listening and tending to your customers’ needs, so that it continually becomes increasingly easier for them to do business with you. We do this because customers pay for everything we have. In addition, a growing customer base funds our strategies for expansion. Therefore, we use tools, techniques, technology, treatments and proper training of our people in order to engage in CEM activities. We analyze progress and track improvements. And finally, we engage in the discipline of CEM because it’s a helluva lot easier and cheaper to keep existing customers than to recruit new ones.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Eric Camulli
As Vice President for 7signal, Eric is focused on helping organizations bring high quality and highly productive experiences to people using Wi-Fi networks everywhere. In today's connected economy, our dependency on robust, reliable Wi-Fi is paramount. Eric is dedicated to ensuring that companies deliver peak wireless performance so that they can compete in a marketplace exploding with wireless devices.


  1. It is not an enigma. Pine and Gilmore invented the term and they are very clear. It is about creating a distinct economic offering around being personal and memorable over and above the product and service you are selling. What has happened is the term has been bastardised to mean service excellence. Service Excellence is an old topic that just means creating more value over price.

    CEM feels dead because box shifters are picking up the ambiguity of the word Experience and say ah ha, we can now sell loads of stuff to companies, especially around ad nauseum measurement processes. Yep, they are not interested in it other than being a product (not a solution methodology).

    Just like CRM, once you get software vendors involved the customer is lost in a feeding frenzy of box shifting and overpromise boosted by I am sorry to say, dubious NPS promises (my suggestion is that you read Tim Keiningham).

    I also believe that much of the problem lies in box shifters and accountants measurement paradigm. With Experience you must create solutions and take a risk (trial). Likewise with customers much value is to be had through understanding that customer data is not machine data (i.e., it is not set in stone, it has a quality element to it, it is impacted by indirect effects and it is not easy to predict root causes and predictive outcomes).


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