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CRM and CX management at crossroads in the customer journey

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CRM vs. CX: How companies are pivoting in philosophies

It might be time to retire the decades-old concept of CRM now that CX is appearing everywhere. Learn how embracing CX alters the thinking of enterprise leadership.

It's no great leap to look at CRM vs. CX and consider them one in the same. Customer relationship management is about keeping customers happy, and in a mobile app-to-cloud world, constant fine-tuning of the customer experience is the most effective way to achieve that.

CRM revolves around the reorganization of enterprise data and tools in the field and helping marketing, sales and service personnel do their jobs faster, more efficiently and with more precise targeting. Increasingly, that requires a personal touch, an emphasis on the individual customer's needs and preferences.

That's where CX comes in. Customer journeys in marketing and sales efforts are all about crafting a personalized experience, and the leading CRM and CX software vendors now lean heavily that way. In fact, Gartner recently listed CX as the second-highest technology investment priority among CEOs.

But that's not all there is to CX -- not even close.

Beyond marketing and sales

What impresses CEOs and other enterprise technology decision-makers is the importance of CX to marketplace success. Put simply, CRM's focus on CX has brought about an overhaul in how the enterprise sees customers in every aspect.

Building blocks of customer experience

Collier Pickard, a U.K. CRM consulting firm, describes CX on its website as the glue that binds customer interaction with customer information -- the sum of all the experiences customers have with the enterprise during the course of their relationship.

The fragmented customer

A major selling point of CRM is the consolidation of customer data from the marketing, sales and service perspectives -- the creation of a common customer profile that serves the needs of all three.

But marketing, sales and service are not the only domains that have customer perspectives. Customer data is also critical to logistics, manufacturing, operations, supply chain and so on. Details about customer behaviors, preferences, needs and other critical profile data drive decisions there, too.

The new C-suite role of chief experience officer is becoming increasingly prevalent.

CX rapidly expands the idea of optimized customer journeys beyond conversion and sales into all enterprise silos and channels. Put another way, if the enterprise cultivates the capability to understand and anticipate the needs of potential customers and convert them to loyal brand enthusiasts, it can use that same capability to improve relationships with supply chain partners, logistics service providers, and vendors and suppliers of all kinds. The core philosophy of CX isn't limited to customers; it requires a technology investment that shows a customer's activity across all channels and gives an organization the ability to meet them wherever they are -- and optimize communications.

And there are other innovative applications of CX. Bullhorn recently said that CRM utility for retaining customers is wisely applied to retaining employees -- another savings and efficiency move that's an increasing enterprise priority.

New ways of thinking

What does all this mean, and how is it affecting the operational philosophy of the enterprise?

Companies around the world are taking the CRM vs. CX distinction seriously enough that the new C-suite role of CXO -- chief experience officer -- is becoming increasingly prevalent. The 2018 Retail Industry Digital Adoption Survey, conducted by consultancy NSU Technologies and sponsored by Software AG, reported that CX is the primary focus for many retailers responding to the survey and 94% of them will increase their CX efforts in the coming year.

Forrester Research even created a "CX index," a benchmark of customer experience quality applied to global brands, measuring customer satisfaction with enterprise response to their needs and the quality of their experience.

CX is rapidly increasing as a competitive arena; more than two-thirds of companies responding to a Gartner survey compete primarily on the basis of CX, and that number is soon expected to reach 81%.  The point is that CX is here to stay, but it still has a long way to go.

This was last published in January 2019

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