1137 — CRM and CEM: Same bottle, different label. By Khurram Sharif, Henley Management College

Feb 27, 2004 | Conteúdos Em Ingles

Relationship and experience: are they same phenomena or are they different? When consulting a dictionary they show similarity in meaning: Relationship is defined as quality of association between people, whereas experience is skill or knowledge acquired from an involvement. The two conceptualisations seem to represent the common element of association/involvement. For relationship, the term ‘association’ is used loosely and depicts a notion of a continuum when described/defined in terms of quality (i.e., good quality association and bad quality association). However, in explaining experience, a more precise approach is taken where involvement/association is fundamentally formed as a means of seeking/acquiring information, knowledge and skill.

This brings out a subtle yet key difference between CRM and CEM. In the literature, CRM has often been quoted to be about maintaining and growing customer relationships by considering people, processes and systems and this reflects the generality of the concept in its application. Whereas CEM is about focus, it is about concentration, it is about aiming, and in all the three cases the target is the customer. The rest of the article discusses CEM critically to evaluate how it is different from CRM and how it manages and fosters customer experiences by making them into business opportunities, by making them into memories and furthermore learning from them.

One difference between CRM and CEM is typological. CRM is largely historical (reactive and passive) where sales-related/transaction-related data are collected and processed to inform future decisions. CEM is predominantly real-time. It is about being with the customer in person, in voice, in visual and in virtual.

Another subtle, yet generically important, difference between CRM and CEM is the way the customer is perceived. CRM concentrates on the product and addresses product-related issues through the customer. Hence the focus of CRM is to know the product and not the customer. Whereas CEM is about making the customer the main product and engaging with them at various levels (i.e. emotional, cultural and economic) to understand them and to ensure that the customer (product) remains of the highest quality.

By treating the customer as the product, quality is largely achieved and sustained through need identification and satisfaction. Human needs, at the best of times, are difficult to recognise and understand; in particular implicit needs are hard to envisage. Simply asking standard questions, for instance using a questionnaire (the most common method of needs identification in CRM ) is not enough, primarily due to individual needs differences.

It should be realised that needs are experience based and consequently better judged by engaging/involving in an interaction with the customer where perceptions, behaviours and attitudes are judged/monitored in addition to verbal feedback. Therefore through ‘experience management’ there is a good chance that needs can be assessed and materialized into actionable entities. Hence CEM is about defining needs clearly by explicating them through direct and indirect means and then involving formal and informal methods to address them to seek the highest degree of customer satisfaction.

In terms of application, CEM is a time consuming and financially intensive process and therefore its implementation has to be selective. This highlights another fundamental difference between CRM and CEM. CRM, being holistic, process-driven and product-oriented, can be applied to most customers to develop and sustain a general view of the market. With CEM, where utmost satisfaction within a long-term frame is sought, customer centricity is the key success factor.

To achieve this in practice is costly and hence the customer number should be limited. This implies that the organisation should concentrate on the customers that it can’t afford to lose – the crème de la crème of the organisation. This premium group must be respected, pampered and treated like honoured guests to create experience equity; their whims and fancies must be catered for. In order to take care of their whims and fancies, two systems are generally needed: one to deal with the complaints/queries and another to monitor satisfaction levels.

Complaints are a serious and un-ignorable form of feedback; they are a strong signal that an issue needs immediate attention and quick resolution. To put a positive slant on this, complaints can also be regarded as opportunities to show the customers that the organisation cares and regards them as being important. When complaints are dealt with successfully, they create a good experience and a sense of loyalty in the customer who develops trust for the organisation and as a result seeks relational continuity.

Through similar repeated episodes of pleasant experiences the continuity is drawn out into a long-term relationship. Additionally, by sharing experiences with loyal customers an organisation can get premium information as to what is expected of it in terms of products and associated services. Thus, involving key customers in the decision-making opens up a useful information channel.

Finally CRM and CEM should be seen as two components of the same process that is fundamentally about managing customers. CRM can be regarded as more general with broader applications whereas CEM can be seen as a package for the privileged that are seen as being crucial to the present and future of the organisation. One can conclude by saying that CRM and CEM are similar and may be not the same bottle. CRM is a standard brand (e.g. Anadin) and CEM is a premium brand (e.g. Anadin Extra) of the same product.

Khurram Sharif

Em Foco – Opinião