Do the Right Thing: Gain the Customer Experience Advantage Over CRM

Rather than bridging gaps between business units and creating a single customer view, CRM has too often created yet another silo with incomplete information. Customer experience management ensures that customer information is consistent across channels and that next steps are guided by segment- or event customer-specific strategies. Here's how to move toward a more holistic approach.
These steps four alone should improve the customer experience and raise satisfaction levels, but next steps on the CEM journey might take these parallel paths:

Enhance the picture of customers and their behavior by adding sources of data such as Web scripts, IVR scripts, recorded calls, scanned letters and so on. Next, extend the analysis of how customers interact across different channels of communication. As the picture becomes richer, each of the four steps above can be repeated to achieve even higher levels of customer satisfaction and business.

Address the quality of the customer data. The first step should be to create a cross-functional/departmental data governance board (or center of excellence) that includes all interested parties (See "The Next Wave in Data Management." This group's first step should be to identify the cost to the business of errors and inconsistencies in customer data (such as defections and lost sales). This should drive a data governance strategy, including, as appropriate, an MDM initiative that improves customer data quality and data access.

Consider virtualizing the call center by routing interactions based on customer profiles, not just agent availability or load balancing. This will increase the likelihood of the customer being handled through the channel of their choice, in a manner personalized to their circumstances, and in a way most likely to enhance their experience to the maximum extent.


CRM might have been a dream that was not achievable as it was first conceived. The promised 360-degree view of customers has been a long time in coming because of difficulties of accessing all the required data. CEM is a more pragmatic approach that focuses on maximizing the customer experience by ensuring that each customer interaction is handled in a consistent manner across all business units and communication channels, and within the context of a predefined strategy for each customer segment. CEM requires process change, the creation of a single source of truth about customers and a more integrated technical architecture. Pioneering companies have begun the CEM journey, but as more technology comes to market and best practices are established to support such initiatives, you can expect the adoption rate to accelerate over the next three to five years.

Richard Snow is VP & Research Director, Contact Center Performance Management at Ventana Research, a practice dedicated to helping organizations improve the efficiency and effectiveness of multichannel contact centers. Write him at [email protected]