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CEM software: How does it compare to CRM software?

What is the difference between customer experience management (CEM) systems and customer relationship management (CRM) systems? Should they be used together, or separately?

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From a software standpoint there is plenty of confusion out there. For clarification, let's agree on these definitions:

CRM – tools geared to manage and analyze customer information
CEM – tools geared to enable and enhance customer interactions

If we agree on those definitions (although I am sure that most vendors will claim that their products contain a bit of both), then CEM systems and CRM systems serve different, although complimentary, purposes. While CEM is about creating the best customer experience, CRM is about managing relationships while focusing on maximizing revenues. For example, a customer feedback system enables customer dialogue and falls in the CEM definition. A customer database or analysis tool will fall in the CRM definition.

Gartner recently announced that they believe the term CRM will be phased out and CEM will be used in the future. Many vendors use both terms to describe their products. The best advice I can give you is to first determine what you are trying to achieve as part of your customer-centric strategy and then select the tool you need to reach these goals.

This was first published in November 2007

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