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Designing an Enterprise CEM Strategy 

Designing an Enterprise CEM Strategy

Designing an Enterprise CEM Strategy

4/1/2007
By Donna Fluss
Written for GreaterChinaCRM

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Enterprises understand that acquiring and retaining loyal and profitable customers requires the best practices and systems introduced in the customer relationship management (CRM) era, in addition to new processes that facilitate the delivery of a consistently outstanding customer experience in all channels at all times. Service is a strategic differentiator and, in some cases, the only perceived differentiator between otherwise commoditized products and services.

CEM Must be a Corporate Strategy

Providing an outstanding customer experience is not an option; it must be a corporate priority, if not a core value for companies of all sizes – small, medium and large. The challenge for most companies is translating this fundamental principle into an actionable corporate strategy. An “outstanding experience” is a somewhat amorphous concept that has been difficult for companies to define, as it means something different for each customer. However, during the last ten to fifteen years, businesses worldwide have suffered the consequences of ignoring this essential corporate strategy. Customers around the globe are fighting mad and openly venting their displeasure with poor and rude service. Any enterprise that doesn’t acknowledge that it has an opportunity to improve its bottom line by providing an enhanced customer experience is not really paying attention to its customers.

Designing a CEM Strategy

While the contact center or service organization is generally the focal point of interactions with customers, an enterprise-wide customer experience management (CEM) strategy must address every customer interaction and touch point. This should encompass sales, marketing, service, operations and senior executive contacts. It should also cover both live and self-service interactions.

It’s challenging to get consensus on a CEM strategy within one operating group and much more complex to reach agreement across various business units. Enterprises need to overcome these barriers, as customers do not care about internal corporate politics and rightfully expect a consistently outstanding experience regardless of when, how, where and with whom they interact. Therefore, DMG Consulting recommends that enterprises set up a Customer Experience Management team that is responsible for defining this corporate strategy in conjunction with other important enterprise goals and in cooperation with the various business units. For this plan to work, each business unit must be assigned CEM goals for which it will be held responsible and rewarded. Some of the goals should be shared by a number of business units and some should be specific to one functional area.

CEM is Not Just About People

CEM is not simply about providing great service and support – although that is an important first step. Customers prefer to do business with people who understand their needs and are pleasant. They also want to do business with a company that “knows” them and has “institutional knowledge” about their needs, so that they do not have to start over every time they speak to another person or interact with a self-service channel. This is the case whether they’re doing business with a doctor or a bank. Few customers want to tell the same story over multiple times. In some situations, the delay involved in repeating basic facts over and over can actually have a negative impact on the outcome of the transaction.

For a CEM strategy to be successful, companies must go beyond the basics to address business processes and technology, as without changes in these areas, it will be impossible to provide a consistently high level of service for thousands of customers in all channels. (Of course, a small business can start with good manual processes, but will have to rely more on automated systems as it grows.)

This is where building a CEM strategy gets tricky. Many companies have invested substantially in CRM-related systems during the past ten years. The CRM movement brought a great deal of needed investment in infrastructure for sales, marketing and service organizations, but did little to impact the mindset of the people who were delivering the service, establishing the policies, or implementing the business processes. In some organizations, it sometimes seemed that managers believed CRM systems would eliminate the need to interact with customers. It’s now clear that enterprises need to go beyond the basics of CRM and empower their staff with tools – systems, training and, enhanced processes and best practices – that allow them to do whatever it takes to satisfy each and every customer. This is an extremely difficult task that most companies are only beginning to address. Analytics applications that provide information to support live and automated service delivery channels are going to play an increasingly essential role in enterprise-wide CEM strategies.

Addressing the basics is a good beginning. It takes time for companies to make investments in the underlying applications and processes needed to offer a consistently outstanding customer experience. In the meantime, being perceived as a “nice” company that cares about its customers is a great way to start.

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