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It’s Time to Define Customer Experience Management as a Category

Ragy Thomas

April 11, 2017  •  6 min read

Customers are more informed, connected, and empowered than ever before. With over two billion people connected using their real identities – there are no more strangers.

In this social world, customers no longer consume. They push. They pull. Doing so with equal and forceful power. And how they choose to apply that force is directly impacted by their experience: the sum of how someone feels across every interaction with your brand.

Customer Experience: the sum of how someone feels across every interaction with your brand.

Analysts and advisors all agree that customer experience is important. So important, in fact, that Gartner believes 89% of companies now compete primarily on customer experience. There are similar declarations happening all over the industry: Forrester. Altimeter. McKinsey. HBR. The World Economic Forum. Capgemini.

But while we’re all on the same page when it comes to the importance of customer experience, there’s no consensus on what successful customer experience management actually looks like.

Here’s my take. Customer Experience Management (CXM) is the ability to reach, engage, and listen to customers seamlessly externally across channels, and internally across business units, markets, and customer-facing teams. CXM is a core pillar for sustainable business – sitting alongside, and just as vital as, a company’s business model or its operations.

Customer Experience Management (CXM): the ability to reach, engage, and listen to customers seamlessly across external channels, and internally across business units, markets, and customer-facing teams.

CXM: The Most Important Investment for Future-Proofing Your Business

In a world where customers are in control, only one thing is certain – the direction your business needs to take as it continues to evolve won’t be defined by you. It will be shaped by your customers.

Take the list of Fortune 500 companies from 1955 and compare it to today’s list – only 60 companies remain. Everyone else was acquired, went bankrupt, or fell into obsolescence. We’re living in a world where the golden years of a company are numbered – the average lifespan on the S&P 500 is now less than 18 years.

When I look at the global brands Sprinklr works with – no matter the size, market, or industry – they’re all plagued by the same persistent challenges.

  • Disjointed data: They’ve gathered years of valuable insights about customers. But it’s locked away in different parts of the organization.

  • Siloed teams: Different teams are managing different parts of the customer journey, but they’re not working together. They don’t see the customer through the same lens.

  • Disparate processes: Teams don’t talk to one another, and neither do their workflows. Marketing is showing ads to someone who just hung up on customer care.

  • Point solutions: Whenever there’s a new problem, a shiny new tool is called upon to solve it. There are many remedies for the symptoms, but no cure for the actual disease.

  • Unintelligent technology: Companies are competing in a digital world with analog tools that don’t scale. By the time the brand can find the right spreadsheet, the customer is long gone.

Customers want a seamless experience each time they interact with a company. But companies can’t deliver.

It’s Time to Look at the Landscape Differently – to See CXM Holistically

For the past several decades, we have seen the evolution of tools and technologies that address customer-facing needs. From direct marketing databases and call center solutions, to web analytics and email, and now social. But the solutions, while bountiful, have been channel-centric or capability-centric. And thinking about them as separate, and unrelated, entities like CRM or CMS or SMMS is getting in the way of our ability to create an end-to-end customer journey.

Today, I’m calling for analysts, advisors, brands, technology vendors, and systems integrators everywhere to look at the landscape through a fresh perspective. To see CXM as a unified set of capabilities, not as siloed and channel-based products. To recognize it as an industry category of its own, not an afterthought.

I’m asking for a reset, much like the evolution of Supply Chain Management as a category in the 80s and 90s – consolidating a landscape previously littered with inventory management, order management, and other previously independent solutions. And I’m asking for us to work together toward a standardized customer ID spanning all customer-facing systems – mirroring the breakthrough that lead to the standardized product ID.

Defining the Customer Experience Management Vendor Landscape

While “customer experience” labels have been adopted by point solutions serving a small part of the customer journey (e.g., campaign management, influencer marketing, social advertising), I believe that seven primary enterprise-grade vendors are positioned to pursue CXM solutions that span the entire front office: Adobe, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP, and Sprinklr.

We’re proud to call three of these – Microsoft, SAP, and IBM – our esteemed go-to-market partners. And we’re proud to be the first CXM platform purpose-built for a social world.

Unlike “Franken-Clouds” that attempt to stitch together point solutions under one invoice, Sprinklr was created on one unified codebase. Every time we acquire a new company, we throw away the code and rebuild the product as part of Sprinklr’s core architecture. That’s how we approached the breadth of Social Media Management. It’s the same approach we’re taking with Customer Experience Management.

At our inaugural Digital Transformation Summit (click here to see the live stream), I announced five extensions of our Experience Cloud with new solutions for each major customer-facing department: marketing, advertising, research, care, and commerce. In doing so, we’re finally revealing our true purpose. Today’s news is one giant leap in realizing the potential our world-class investors have always seen in us, and fulfilling the destiny we have always seen for ourselves.

There’s a reason we waited eight years.

It took that long to get the fundamental cross-silo capabilities right. We spent years co-creating with our clients and perfecting the building blocks for enterprise-wide governance, automation, collaboration, analytics, data flow, process management, asset management, and customer context management. And creating the only CXM platform purpose-built for a social, customer-first world to help companies reach, engage, and listen seamlessly across channels, markets, and customer-facing teams.

My Customer Experience Management Software Recommendation

You don’t have to buy Sprinklr – that’s not the point of this post – but I recommend taking that same unified approach with your own technology infrastructure. While it is naïve to assume that one platform will rule all, it is time to move from a “best of breed” point solutions approach to a “best of suites” approach – bringing together 3-4 market-leading platforms to holistically manage customer experience at scale.

Start with social as the foundation for customer experience.

The channels for social are infamously complex and ever changing, so front-load the pain and manage them first. You’ll need a centralized platform to reach, engage, and listen to customers on 24+ channels across marketing, advertising, research, care, and commerce.

Extend that social foundation to your foundational legacy systems.

When you integrate social with legacy technologies for email, website, CRM, etc., you’ll unearth new value from those systems. Applying human context to valuable structured data that was once locked away in siloed software and creating a unified view of your customer.

Final Thoughts…

The ability to deliver more human connections and seamless experiences, at every touchpoint, for every customer, is the single most strategic investment for the modern enterprise. Understanding the importance of customer experience is half the battle. The other half is getting it right.

That’s not possible unless we, as an industry, recognize Customer Experience Management as a monumental challenge – and unprecedented opportunity – worth solving together.

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Article Author

Ragy Thomas

Founder and CEO, Sprinklr

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