In his recent very readable article ‘iCXM Comes of Age — Using AI to Know, Engage, and Server Your Customers Better’, CustomerThink.com founder and chief editor Bob Thompson explored how Artificial Intelligence can improve Customer Experience Management — and with extending CXM to iCXM created a new acronym, jokingly noting that the industry is running short on buzzwords.
The opportunities that Bob identifies are
- Knowing your customer
- Engaging your customer
- Serving your customer
While this is all true, I contend that none of this is about customer experience management, simply because customer experiences are living in the perception of the customer, and hence are solely managed by the customer, not by any company. I wrote about it earlier in my article There is no customer experience without customer engagement.
According to Wikipedia, customer experience ‘is the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. This interaction is made up of three parts: the customer journey, the brand touchpoints the customer interacts with, and the environments the customer experiences … ‘. Therefore customer experience ‘implies customer involvement at different levels — such as rational, emotional, sensorial, physical, and spiritual. Customers respond diversely to direct and indirect contact with a company.’ Lastly, customer experience ‘can be defined as the internal and personal responses of the customers …”.
A company, supported by the software it uses, can engage customers in a way that these customers have a positive — or negative — experience.
What now is customer experience management?
Friend and CRM Godfather Paul Greenberg, in a seminal article clarified on the definitions of Customer Relationship Management, Customer Engagement Management, and Customer Experience Management, writing that ‘CXM is a business science that has the purpose of determining the strategy and programs that can make the customer feel good enough about the company to want to continue to do business with the company.’
Techtarget defines it as ‘the collection of processes a company uses to track, oversee, and organize every interaction between a customer and the organization throughout the customer lifecycle. The goal of [Customer Experience Management] is to optimize interactions from the customer’s perspective and foster customer loyalty. To manage the customer experience, a company needs to create a strategy that encompasses all customer interactions.”
There we are.
Not a system. Nor a software category.
So, be wary if a vendor comes to visit you and tells you about their great CXM software. And, yes, this includes big names like Oracle, or Adobe. And then there is a raft of smaller solutions that drives on the CXM label. By the looks of it Microsoft, Salesforce, and SAP got it and are more about ‘Engagement’, which is a prerequisite for experiences.
So, what are the cornerstones of CXM as a strategy?
I do see three:
- An outside-in view that defines the success of the company as a result of customer success, or in other words the ability of giving the customers what they need and want.
- Processes that are designed to deliver customer success with minimal friction.
- Data, lots of it, to build individual customer profiles and to be able to engage with them in relevant conversations — using the right message, at the right time, using the right channel. And ultimately being able to offer the right products and services.
Software supports all these three cornerstones. But, what this software does is enabling engagement, either directly, as in marketing, sales, service, or indirectly, as in analytics, operations systems, content management systems, etc.
Until we get a software system that is intelligent enough to determine a customer’s mood and circumstances every time in real time and that is capable of reacting accordingly and adapting its part of the conversation correspondingly, we will not have Customer Experience Management software, or a category of this software.
But AI might help us having one.