Exactly what is Customer Experience Management (CEM)?


​When I was first introduced to the Customer Experience (CX) world, contrary to my expectations, I found a heavy influence on technology and process with little or no attention paid to the 'people' component.

Surely dealing with customers, and working to improve their 'experience', has to have some dependency on the 'softer' issues associated with people's behaviour? Although modern technology provides amazing capabilities for streamlining the customer journey, sometimes to the point of completely eliminating human intervention, this does not describe every customer experience. 

My expectation, once I started to investigate, was that CEM was a practice designed to ensure that the customer experience was effortless, frictionless, pleasurable, something to be remembered and, above all, an experience that demanded to be repeated! The Six Pillars, as defined by KPMG Numwood Customer Experience Excellence Program, deal with the principles that leading organisations consistently master, and provide an excellent framework to follow.

This excited me! It pointed to an environment that focused on the importance of 'right brain thinking' – Tacit Knowledge – the 'softer' stuff – people's behaviour – Customer Centricity!

And then came reality! As I looked more closely, and listened to presentations from CX practitioners, despite all the evidence that points to the importance of 'people and culture' nobody seemed to be addressing this principle. Most of what I heard and saw continued to focus on technology and process.

After 40 years in the IT Industry, and a brief spell in the Retail space, I appreciate and understand the vital importance of good systems. Cloud computing, social media, mobile devices, etc. are all placing an enormous demand on service providers to meet customers' expectations. Quite rightly, companies are making huge investments in technology and systems that enable them to beat their competitors when it comes to "wallet share".

But what about the 6th Pillar – 'Empathy'? Where does this feature and who takes care of it? What about the brand culture and human behaviour that defines the brand? What about 'listening', 'authenticity' and 'The Golden Rule'? What about 'customer easy' and 'thinking ahead'? What about the next generation of competitive advantage – Tacit Knowledge? It doesn't matter if you have the best systems in the world, designed to streamline the customer experience in the hope of eliminating human interaction. What matters is what is the customer's experience when the inevitable happens and a member of your team has to speak to them? If that fails the test, and is only remembered for all the wrong reasons, what happens to customer loyalty?

In reality, there are numerous circumstances where human interaction takes place, with the behaviour of staff a critical success factor. Some studies even suggest that recognition of the 'emotional' side of the customer experience accounts for as much as 35% of the overall requirement!

There are many examples of organisations investing heavily in enabling the principles and business drivers for customer centricity. Where most fall short, is enabling customer-centric behaviour.

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