5 Steps To Success On The Customer Experience Management Journey

Ramesh Ramakrishnan

The Customer Experience Management Journey

6 Steps To Success On The Customer Experience Management JourneyIn the business world, we often hear the expression ‘People buy from people’ which is fine; however, in today’s real world with too much information and too many choices perhaps the more appropriate expression should be ‘People buy from predictable preferences’.

Though Customer Experience Management (CEM) systems and programs are still evolving, knowing individual customer preferences could be a differentiator based on buying patterns, big data analytics or from within customers’ spheres of influence (personal, professional community). These day’s customers expect companies to offer a list of customer preferences in order to reduce the buying cycle time and increase the overall value.

Business Journey

I’m reminded of Malcom Gladwell’s TED speech in 2004 about choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce. In the 1970’s Pepsi approached Dr. Howard Metzenbaum to find out the optimum mix of aspartame between 8 and 12 % to make the best Pepsi. After conducting a nation-wide study, Dr. Metzenbaum concluded that there is no perfect Pepsi, but we can have perfect Pepsis. So they concluded that instead of looking for one choice, they should look for many choices. Campbell soup and many other companies followed this route and today we have so many variations which are overwhelming to say the least.

Systems Journey

In order to look into CEM, let’s have a quick look into the CRM journey. During the 70’s when companies shifted from being ‘Product centric’ to ‘Customer centric’, it was a breath of fresh air and overtime other companies started to follow. In the 70’s (ecommerce emergence) and 80’s (database marketing) the talk about CRM systems emerged and we had proper CRM systems in the 90’s. Despite the effort and investment in CRM systems, the programs were more employee (customer service, campaigns, marketing etc) efficiency and control based rather than customer relationship improvement based.

With an increasing number of channels and the need for consistent experience, early 2000 onwards we have been hearing about ‘Customer Experience’ systems, which is still evolving.  The journey from CRM to CEM, though still within the customer centric domain, marks a significant shift from an internally focused to externally focused solution to offer better customer experiences. Being internally focused gave more time for companies to adopt and evolve, but in the CEM era, companies don’t have the same amount of time – they have to play catch-up if they are slow in adoption.

The balance is between great customer experience that drives loyalty and ‘relevant preference’ that will drive commerce. Here are 5 steps to get the best out of CEM initiatives.

1.) Build seamless interactions both external and internal:

Customers are expecting seamless interactions across traditional channels such as in-store, call-center, online and new channels such as mobile and social. Though technology can play a role in enabling this, employee (internal) based seamless interactions can really transform customer (external) based seamless interactions. While connected channels through CEM give a unified customer experience; social collaboration applications such as Succesfactor, Chatter, Yammer can also help iron out counterproductive KPI’s, policy issues.

2.) Deliver consistent value and experience across channels:

Consistent experience across channels due to end-to-end processes, functionality rich channel systems, decentralisation to harness channel incubation, management commitment offers a chance for customers to build trust.  Customer experience is not only a front line issue; recently I attended a digital marketing webinar from Ducati hosted by Infosys, Ducati mentioned that it set-up a web channel in Jan 2000 and sold more than 2000 bikes in one week! To use web as a primary channel 13 years ago and offer consistent offline-online experience shows the level of commitment, agility across the company, benefits of IT partnership models ( outsourced vs central IT) and the functionality richness to make it happen. Flexible and functionality rich solutions across fast moving channels such as social, mobile will help companies deliver consistently in a fast paced environment.

3.) Offer relevant preferences using real-time or just-in-time approaches:

Connecting the customer transaction data, front line interaction information and non-enterprise data such as social, mobile can help companies to understand the current and future needs of the customer. This is no simple feat as it might involve legal obstacles particularly in 2nd and 3rd party data usage as companies have no governance control over vendors in terms of adherence of data protection and privacy rules.  Leveraging big data and analytics to come up with relevant preferences for customers will be a key differentiator considering the number of alternatives available. Real-time solutions through Big data, analytics, In-memory and human intelligence (through collaborative networking) is set to transform commerce and customer experience. Just-in-time type of production philosophy could be applied based on acceptance signals from system generated customer preference in order to fine-tune the big data strategy within the company.

4.) Develop a partner ecosystem that can collaborate and complement each other:

Customer Experience management is a cluster of various products that have to work together to offer a holistic solution. It’s critical to have the right set of partners who are innovators, have a good partner ecosystem, and are open to integration with other vendor products. The danger in such a fast paced environment is for one or two partners to become a drag, which will slow down the entire CEM program; as due to competition sometimes vendors tend to block integration programs. Long term vendors who have invested in this ecosystem are critical to the CEM journey due to merger and acquisition volatility in this space as CMOs will spend more than CIOs.

5.)  Implement Total Customer Experience (TCE):

In Total Quality Management (TQM) concept the quality of products and processes is the responsibility of everyone involved in the creation and consumption ecosystem. To coin a similar term for CEM – Total Customer Experience (TCE) should be a philosophy across the organisation, not just front line staff. Customer experience is not just a front line issue – internal competition, delays and bottlenecks across departments can badly impact customer experience. In the connected media age where customers immediately share more of their negative experiences than positive ones and other customers look to find out any negative issues before buying something, such negative stories can impact commerce.

Customer experience management is not only about technology, it’s also about organisational culture and TCE shift to make CEM happen, otherwise it will go down the path of CRM implementations which were mainly used to improve staff control and efficiency issues. CEM will continue to evolve due to innovation and customer trends; hence companies must create an ecosystem that is agile, nimble.

Follow @Ramesh_Ramki on Twitter, on Linkedin or Google+, website


About Ramesh Ramakrishnan

Ramesh Ramakrishnan, a marketing and organisation culture enthusiast, is the Founder of RR Marketing Advisory and author of He has held various leadership positions across EMEA marketing, 3rd party advisory and analyst relations in the enterprise Information technology products and services sector. Follow @Ramesh_Ramki on Twitter



Recommended for you:

13 Scary Statistics On Employee Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Jacob Shriar

There is a serious problem with the way we work.

Most employees are disengaged and not passionate about the work they do. This is costing companies a ton of money in lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. It’s also harmful to employees, because they’re more stressed out than ever.

The thing that bothers me the most about it, is that it’s all so easy to fix. I can’t figure out why managers aren’t more proactive about this. Besides the human element of caring for our employees, it’s costing them money, so they should care more about fixing it. Something as simple as saying thank you to your employees can have a huge effect on their engagement, not to mention it’s good for your level of happiness.

The infographic that we put together has some pretty shocking statistics in it, but there are a few common themes. Employees feel overworked, overwhelmed, and they don’t like what they do. Companies are noticing it, with 75% of them saying they can’t attract the right talent, and 83% of them feeling that their employer brand isn’t compelling. Companies that want to fix this need to be smart, and patient. This doesn’t happen overnight, but like I mentioned, it’s easy to do. Being patient might be the hardest thing for companies, and I understand how frustrating it can be not to see results right away, but it’s important that you invest in this, because the ROI of employee engagement is huge.

Here are 4 simple (and free) things you can do to get that passion back into employees. These are all based on research from Deloitte.

1.  Encourage side projects

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload. Let them explore their own passions and interests, and work on side projects. Ideally, they wouldn’t have to be related to the company, but if you’re worried about them wasting time, you can set that boundary that it has to be related to the company. What this does, is give them autonomy, and let them improve on their skills (mastery), two of the biggest motivators for work.

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload.

2.  Encourage workers to engage with customers

At Wistia, a video hosting company, they make everyone in the company do customer support during their onboarding, and they often rotate people into customer support. When I asked Chris, their CEO, why they do this, he mentioned to me that it’s so every single person in the company understands how their customers are using their product. What pains they’re having, what they like about it, it gets everyone on the same page. It keeps all employees in the loop, and can really motivate you to work when you’re talking directly with customers.

3.  Encourage workers to work cross-functionally

Both Apple and Google have created common areas in their offices, specifically and strategically located, so that different workers that don’t normally interact with each other can have a chance to chat.

This isn’t a coincidence. It’s meant for that collaborative learning, and building those relationships with your colleagues.

4.  Encourage networking in their industry

This is similar to number 2 on the list, but it’s important for employees to grow and learn more about what they do. It helps them build that passion for their industry. It’s important to go to networking events, and encourage your employees to participate in these things. Websites like Eventbrite or Meetup have lots of great resources, and most of the events on there are free.

13 Disturbing Facts About Employee Engagement [Infographic]

What do you do to increase employee engagement? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up here and receive The Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

This infographic was crafted with love by Officevibe, the employee survey tool that helps companies improve their corporate wellness, and have a better organizational culture.


Recommended for you:

Supply Chain Fraud: The Threat from Within

Lindsey LaManna

Supply chain fraud – whether perpetrated by suppliers, subcontractors, employees, or some combination of those – can take many forms. Among the most common are:

  • Falsified labor
  • Inflated bills or expense accounts
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Phantom vendor accounts or invoices
  • Bid rigging
  • Grey markets (counterfeit or knockoff products)
  • Failure to meet specifications (resulting in substandard or dangerous goods)
  • Unauthorized disbursements

LSAP_Smart Supply Chains_graphics_briefook inside

Perhaps the most damaging sources of supply chain fraud are internal, especially collusion between an employee and a supplier. Such partnerships help fraudsters evade independent checks and other controls, enabling them to steal larger amounts. The median loss from fraud committed
by a single thief was US$80,000, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

Costs increase along with the number of perpetrators involved. Fraud involving two thieves had a median loss of US$200,000; fraud involving three people had a median loss of US$355,000; and fraud with four or more had a median loss of more than US$500,000, according to ACFE.

Build a culture to fight fraud

The most effective method to fight internal supply chain theft is to create a culture dedicated to fighting it. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Make sure the board and C-level executives understand the critical nature of the supply chain and the risk of fraud throughout the procurement lifecycle.
  • Market the organization’s supply chain policies internally and among contractors.
  • Institute policies that prohibit conflicts of interest, and cross-check employee and supplier data to uncover potential conflicts.
  • Define the rules for accepting gifts from suppliers and insist that all gifts be documented.
  • Require two employees to sign off on any proposed changes to suppliers.
  • Watch for staff defections to suppliers, and pay close attention to any supplier that has recently poached an employee.

About Lindsey LaManna

Lindsey LaManna is Social and Reporting Manager for the Digitalist Magazine by SAP Global Marketing. Follow @LindseyLaManna on Twitter, on LinkedIn or Google+.


Recommended for you:

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends And Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015

Sunny Popali

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends & Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015The fast-paced world of digital marketing is changing too quickly for most companies to adapt. But staying up to date with the latest industry trends is imperative for anyone involved with expanding a business.

Here are five trends that have shaped the industry this year and that will become more important as we move forward:

  1. Email marketing will need to become smarter

Whether you like it or not, email is the most ubiquitous tool online. Everyone has it, and utilizing it properly can push your marketing ahead of your rivals. Because business use of email is still very widespread, you need to get smarter about email marketing in order to fully realize your business’s marketing strategy. Luckily, there are a number of tools that can help you market more effectively, such as Mailchimp.

  1. Content marketing will become integrated and more valuable

Content is king, and it seems to be getting more important every day. Google and other search engines are focusing more on the content you create as the potential of the online world as marketing tool becomes apparent. Now there seems to be a push for current, relevant content that you can use for your services and promote your business.

Staying fresh with the content you provide is almost as important as ensuring high-quality content. Customers will pay more attention if your content is relevant and timely.

  1. Mobile assets and paid social media are more important than ever

It’s no secret that mobile is key to your marketing efforts. More mobile devices are sold and more people are reading content on mobile screens than ever before, so it is crucial to your overall strategy to have mobile marketing expertise on your team. London-based Abacus Marketing agrees that mobile marketing could overtake desktop website marketing in just a few years.

  1. Big Data for personalization plays a key role

Marketers are increasingly using Big Data to get their brand message out to the public in a more personalized format. One obvious example is Google Trend analysis, a highly useful tool that marketing experts use to obtain the latest on what is trending around the world. You can — and should — use it in your business marketing efforts. Big Data will also let you offer specific content to buyers who are more likely to look for certain items, for example, and offer personalized deals to specific groups of within your customer base. Other tools, which until recently were the stuff of science fiction, are also available that let you do things like use predictive analysis to score leads.

  1. Visual media matters

A picture really is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, and nobody can deny the effectiveness of a well-designed infographic. In fact, some studies suggest that Millennials are particularly attracted to content with great visuals. Animated gifs and colorful bar graphs have even found their way into heavy-duty financial reports, so why not give them a try in your business marketing efforts?

A few more tips:

  • Always keep your content relevant and current to attract the attention of your target audience.
  • Always keep all your social media and public accounts fresh. Don’t use old content or outdated pictures in any public forum.
  • Your reviews are a proxy for your online reputation, so pay careful attention to them.
  • Much online content is being consumed on mobile now, so focus specifically on the design and usability of your mobile apps.
  • Online marketing is essentially geared towards getting more traffic onto your site. The more people visit, the better your chances of increasing sales.

Want more insight on how digital marketing is evolving? See Shutterstock Report: The Face Of Marketing Is Changing — And It Doesn’t Include Vince Vaughn.


About Sunny Popali

Sunny Popali is SEO Director at Tempo Creative is a Phoenix inbound marketing company that has served over 700 clients since 2001. Tempos team specializes in digital and internet marketing services including web design, SEO, social media and strategy.

Recommended for you:

Create A Culture That Doesn’t Fear Failure

JP George

A fear of failure could be holding back your business.

If the people on your team are worrying about being ridiculed or blamed for independent creativity or the downfall of an entire project, they are likely to hold back their ideas and stick to completing projects in the same way over and over again. In comparison, people who work in an office culture with no fear of failure feel free to bounce ideas around, which helps generate new practices, keep up with the times, push projects along, and can “wow” customers with innovation.

Changing the way your office works won’t happen overnight, but these five tips could begin to implement positive changes to help steer your team toward a working environment that is good for the staff and good for the business.

1. Recognize and reward

Employee recognition is the key to not fearing failure. When an employee or team member goes above and beyond; make sure they know that their hard work is appreciated and that an efficient system for providing employee recognition awards is in place. Even small things like suggesting a new way to carry out a particular process should be celebrated. If an employee, colleague, or team member has a suggestion that isn’t quite on-point, find the positive; for example, you might say, “You’re on the right lines, your idea will help speed the process up, but…” Always make sure to offer positive feedback first, then mention the thing that needs changing, and end with encouragement: “Once that’s ironed out, we can implement this — great work!”

2. Adopt a team mentality

Seems straightforward and fairly obvious for a first step, but so many companies do not know how to really generate a feeling of teamwork and inclusivity, and instead put up a front of “togetherness” while retaining the bad practices that divide a workforce. Start by calling a team meeting and setting some ground rules together. Yes, it’s a basic ice-breaking activity in almost all training sessions, but it also helps each person to display respect and hear the opinions of other members of the group. Suggest from the start that the team use “we” rather than individual pronouns when discussing projects, as it helps to dispel blame culture and reminds each person that they are all responsible for any successes and downfalls of the team.

3. Say “yes” more

When staff members and colleagues approach you with ideas and innovation, are you more likely to think “straying from the status quo is dangerous,” or are you willing to hear the person out and let their creative juices flow? Even if the first suggestion they offer is horrible, try not to say “no” outright or make the person feel bad for sharing. Try to find a way in which their idea can be incorporated, even if it has to be altered to fit the project. Saying “yes” to the inspiration and thoughts generated by staff and colleagues means that they will be likely to offer more ideas in the future, and without that openness, you might miss the next great innovation in your industry.

4. Blame less

Similarly, try to incorporate policies that encourage employee recognition rather than shame for sharing concepts. If failure does occur, do not publicly belittle the person deemed responsible, even in jest. This creates tension within the office or team and can make the person receiving the blame less likely to contribute in the future, and may even affect their personal well-being. Instead of blaming and shaming, discuss what went wrong as a group, and try to enforce the group mentality of “we could have done…” rather than “I/they/she/he did…”

5. Look for the positives

If, for any reason, your team does experience failure—and you should, otherwise you’re just not aiming high enough—try to see the positives, and discuss the issue as a group — not in cliques of us vs. them, but together discuss what the group could have done better. If a majority insist on blaming one or two people, move onto analyzing how communication channels could be opened up and ask members how inclusivity could be improved. After all, if only a few people are responsible for a project failing, the responsibility was obviously not being shared in an equal manner while the project was underway. There are positives to every situation, even if it is just the ability to improve your team dynamic.

The changes won’t happen immediately, but once the systems are in place and your staff, colleagues, and team members start to understand the goals within both the office and working environment as a whole, your employees’ creativity should start flowing and you will start hearing new suggestions regularly. Even if some don’t work well, remember to recognize employees and enjoy the rewards of your newly open and trusting workforce.

Want more employee engagement tips? See Boost Productivity With These 4 Brain Breaks.


About JP George

JP George grew up in a small town in Washington. After receiving a Master's degree in Public Relations, JP has worked in a variety of positions, from agencies to corporations all across the globe. Experience has made JP an expert in topics relating to leadership, talent management, and organizational business.

Recommended for you: