Customer Experience Management

Over the last five or ten years, organizations have started to take the concept of Customer Experience Management more and more seriously.  So what exactly is "Customer Experience Management"?  Well … Wikipedia (the ultimate authority in the packaging and distribution of information) defines customer experience as, "the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier."  Your customer has an experience with your organization each and every time they interact (either directly or indirectly) with you.  Those individual experiences of seeing an advertisement, handling the product package from the store shelf, using the product, dialing into the call center for service or support, etc., etc., all roll up into THE collective Customer Experience.

Customers are going to have an "experience" whether or not you want them to.  The object, then, is to deliver consistently positive experiences.  That's where Customer Experience Management (CEM) comes in.  One of my favorite definitions of CEM comes from the Strativity Group: "the science and art of managing all interactions with customers across all touch points in order to maximize the value provided to the customer."  CEM is not about being slick and clever … it's not about trying to get a customer to feel good about a sub-standard interaction.  CEM is about matching the right customers with the right experiences at the right touch points.  Many businesses see the value (or potential value) in pursuing a concerted CEM initiative, but it's not a trivial endeavor.  The big "gotcha" with CEM is that you can't deploy a meaningful initiative without change (and often times, MAJOR change).  If human nature has taught us anything, it's that change doesn't come easily.  But studies have shown that those companies willing to truly invest in the customer experience reap the rewards.

So what do you think?  Is CEM a discipline that your company understands and values enough to concertedly puruse?

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