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CRM and CX management at crossroads in the customer journey

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Customer experience supplants CRM as digital commerce grows

CX management, also called customer experience management and CXM, seems at odds with traditional CRM. It is -- and it isn't.

CRM vendors such as Zoho, Zendesk, SAP and Oracle placed new emphasis on CX management in the last few years. That doesn't mean CRM will go away anytime soon. But even Salesforce, the cloud CRM innovator soon to be headed into its third decade of existence, is making CX management a priority.

It's all part of the greater trend toward automating sales, beginning with inbound marketing and flowing into online ordering, checkout and self-service tools such as chatbot interactions and automated reordering after the initial sale.

Millennials and younger generations, who sometimes seem more comfortable online than in physical environments, drive this trend in the B2B and B2C sectors. Older generations, however, are slowly following suit, said Chris Jacob, product marketing leader for Salesforce Marketing Cloud. He added that Salesforce research shows that the experience is just as important as the actual value of the product or service purchased for 80% of customers.

The CX management model seeks to reduce barriers from web search to final sale, making the purchasing experience itself straightforward and leaving the customer with a good feeling about a particular brand. CX's enterprise IT stack may employ some of the same tools as traditional CRM, such as a customer data platform, marketing automation tools and e-commerce module, but it also pays particular attention to the customer journey and making it easier.

CRM, on the other hand, may find itself the best tool for inside sales teams of B2B and B2C companies where phone or in-person conversations remain a critical part of closing deals. But where CRM was a must-have for all successful businesses just a few years ago, the CX management model potentially may supplant it in many verticals.

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