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Issue of October 2006 

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Customer satisfaction with CEM

Customer experience management can help build customer loyalty and bolster your brand, says Siva Ganeshanandan, Solutions Manager, Interwoven.

Siva Ganeshanandan

In order to drive organisational growth today’s C-level executives are working towards increasing customer satisfaction, improving market agility, and strengthening their brands across global markets. Till recently these executives used Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to optimise sales transaction processes, but now their challenges are greater. To reach their goals, executives today are finding that they must go beyond CRM to create and optimise a comprehensive customer experience strategy.

Beyond plain vanilla CRM

It is essential to think of the customer experience as the collection of all interactions a customer has with a company, its products, and its partners, across all customer touch-points (the channels for customer interaction, such as mobile devices, contact centres, e-mail, Web sites, flyers, and retail stores). This experience has to be managed across all geographies, and throughout all stages of the customer lifecycle, from attracting customers through fulfilment to retention.

The customer experience is central to each of the three corporate goals mentioned above. Delivering a relevant, personalised, and consistent customer experience can, for instance, improve customer satisfaction, across every customer touch-point. Accelerating the delivery of new brands, messages, and promotions to customers enhances market agility. In addition to these, delivering a consistent customer experience across world markets and languages is essential for building a strong global brand.

However, the truth remains that an optimal customer experience is easier to describe than to deliver. In practical terms companies must coordinate with numerous content creators worldwide, combine the content that they create with centrally controlled and approved digital assets (electronic documents, images, PDF files, or other digital media that constitute an asset), localise it for specific markets, personalise it for particular customers, and publish it across the full range of customer interaction touch-points.

Traditional approach falls short

To date, few companies have optimised this entire create-to-publish customer experience process. The lack of an enterprise-wide strategic approach undermines the very objectives that executives are seeking to achieve, resulting in some important issues or shortcomings.

The first of these being decreased customer satisfaction. Inaccurate, out-of-date, or incomplete customer information prevents people from understanding companies and their products, and can drive customers away.

The second issue is sluggish market execution. Labour-intensive manual processes require months-long lead times to roll out brand changes, new products, and new campaigns, delaying launches and weakening competitive advantage.

The next in the line is brand dilution. Without the capability for centralised control, brands and messages become distorted as they are altered for the requirements of different touch-points and diverse global markets.

At the same time, another penalty is incurred, because customer experience inefficiencies increase the cost of each customer interaction. This can damage the bottom line.

CEM: A unified strategy

A far more effective approach is CEM, which brings together an enterprise’s entire create-to-publish customer experience process within a single ecosystem, uniting content management, digital asset management, localisation, content distribution, and more

Focussing on a particular type of customer interaction such as the hotline or a specific customer touch-point such as the company’s Web site may improve one aspect of the overall customer experience. However, this is also likely to result in duplication of content, inconsistent usage of the said content, and redundant processes, which only compound enterprise-wide difficulties.

A far more effective approach is customer experience management (CEM), which brings together an enterprise’s entire create-to-publish customer experience process within a single ecosystem, uniting content management, digital asset management, localisation, content distribution, and more.

With a systematic approach, a company can consistently deliver persuasive, customer-facing content through all customer touch-points to attain the following objectives:

Strengthen customer loyalty: A CEM solution provides capabilities for personalisation and interaction management so companies can anticipate and meet the specific needs of each customer for each interaction. The automation of manual processes prevents misalignment across channels and improves customer satisfaction.

Achieve unified brands, messages, and corporate image: A CEM solution provides business units around the world with a library of approved, localised brand messages and marketing assets. By combining local authoring with centralised control, CEM helps companies move quickly in every geography while projecting the brand in a consistent light to build customer loyalty.

In addition to these strategic benefits, from an operational perspective the automation of manual processes prevents redundant work and optimises efficiency, often enabling enterprises to substantially reduce the costs of providing customer information.

Accelerate worldwide product launches and promotions: By supporting all processes from collaborative creation through global publishing, CEM enables an enterprise to create customer content that can be used immediately around the world. Business units can eliminate IT bottlenecks by rapidly generating and deploying their own marketing assets without risking misalignment with enterprise-level business objectives.

CRM is essential for managing the transactional aspects of the customer relationship, but it is not enough. Executives seeking to build customer loyalty, improve market agility, and manage their brands across global markets are finding that CEM offers both a solution to address the challenges of today and a platform to stay competitive tomorrow.

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Indian Express - Business Publications Division

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