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CEM : Customer Experience Management

May 3, 2012

Yesterday I had a casual lunch conversation with one of my colleagues and the topic of “Online Purchases” came up. He quoted a particular website and said “Their website is good, but the way they run their buses, it is horrible to say the least!”

I was surprised, because to my knowledge that website doesn’t run any buses. They just allow you to book tickets from various bus service providers and that’s it.

Personally, I have used this website many times, I know they don’t run any buses and hence I only book tickets from bus services which are highly rated by fellow users. As a result, I never had a bad experience. I would gladly recommend their website to anyone.

But my colleague, had a totally different view on this. He said he will never book tickets from them anymore.

So, I decided to probe further and asked him about the ‘bad experience’ he had with this website. His response was ‘Their buses start late, arrive late, they are dirty, Air conditioning is poor…’

‘But wait, these are the problems of Bus Service Provider, The website where you booked the ticket can’t be held responsible for these operational issues. They just act as agents and allow you to book a ticket at the comfort of your home, that’s it.’

‘I don’t care. For me they sold the ticket, and they are responsible for my travel experience. Isn’t it?’

Now, you can’t argue with this logic!

A few days back, I had a similar experience when we tried to buy a washing machine for home. We went to a supermarket, looked at various models, and were debating on which one is best for our needs. My wife had some additional questions about a few of those models and asked the salesperson.

Unfortunately, that person was not able to answer any questions my wife asked. It was clear that he didn’t understand anything about washing, forgetting machines. He is simply paid to stand there and tell people what models are available and how much they cost.

My wife got really upset about this. ‘Let us go to some other store,’ she decided abruptly.

‘But why?’

‘These guys don’t know anything about the products they sell!’

I tried to explain to her how the retail industry works. ‘This supermarket deals with hundreds of brands, thousands of products; it is practically impossible for them to know technicalities of all those goods they sell.’

Her response was almost the same as my colleague’s, ‘I don’t care. I buy from this shop, and they should give convincing answers to all my questions, Else, I am not buying from them!’

So, Consumers are not ready (or don’t want) to understand the gap between Sales and Delivery / Usage Experience. It is for companies to manage. They don’t care if you sell somebody Else’s product, they want the entire process to be smooth, and you are responsible for it, end to end!

When you look at the way most companies are organized, there is a Research division that looks at various customer needs and imagines products. Then we have a production division that makes these products, we have Sales / Marketing divisions that take care of the selling process, and the Support division takes care of customer issues. Each one of these divisions has its problems/solutions and boundaries.

Not anymore. A sales guy can’t say, “My CRM ends when an opportunity is converted to an order”, a Service guy can’t say “No Purchase, No Support”, Whether we like it or not, we need to do everything possible to make sure that EVERY touch point a customer has with us, are giving them the best possible experience.

For example, someone coming to your website, visiting your Twitter page / Facebook wall, buying your product in a small store, calling the telesupport number to report an issue, talking to their friends about how your product functions … all these touch points (and more) are important, and as a company you need to make sure all these experiences are great. This is not optional anymore, one bad experience in any of these touchpoints can drive tons of business away from you.

Customer Experience Management that’s where the future lies. CRM is not enough, it’s going to be CEM Era now!

Naga Chokkanathan,

Senior Director, CRMIT

Originally Published In : http://nagachokkanathan.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/why-not-manage-experiences/

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