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 Alison DianaChoosing The Right Customer Experience Management Solution
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 By Alison Diana

The Technologies Behind Customer Experience Management (CEM)

Each day, through Facebook, Twitter and a host of other social mediums, your customers give you invaluable insight into what they like - and dislike - about your products, services and business practices. But capturing, aggregating, integrating, and then using that data to further transform your company can be elusive without the right customer experience management (CEM) tools.

Consider the value consumers place on others' opinions. 54% of online adults said user generated content on social media networks has influenced how they conduct online transactions, according to the 2009 Survey of Online Consumer Behavior by Harris Interactive for Tealeaf Technology. Of those influenced by social media, 64% avoided a vendor after reading a bad review and 59% used a vendor after reading a good review, the study found.

The same study also found that 39% of those polled experienced bad customer service from a company's call center when they contacted it due to site problems. As a result of this poor service, 45% stopped doing business with the company. How many businesses would, knowing this, change their training or policies, contact those dissatisfied clients with special promotions or take other steps to try and reverse their fortunes?

Whether information comes from research studies or tweets from the Twitter stream, it's important that you can use this data to engage customers, change advertising campaigns, rework distribution channels or create the right future products. Placing too much or too little emphasis on one form of customer feedback over another can do a disservice to your organization. You should, therefore, look for a CEM solution that integrates all forms of communication to get the best snapshot of how your customers view your company and its offerings.

Choosing CEM Software

Properly selected and implemented customer experience management can, therefore, quickly create sustained ROI, measurable in both hard dollars and company reputation.

Like any business software application, buying a CEM solution requires careful research to ensure you find the application best-suited for your company's needs and growth plans. Factors such as your customer target market, number of brands and geographical footprint will influence which CEM solution makes the best sense. Also make sure the relevant departments - such as IT, customer service, public relations, sales and marketing, among others - are part of the software selection process, and are given ample opportunity to provide a list of wants and needs.

Of course, the CEM software should integrate with social media networks as well as email, surveys, telephone and other means of communicating with customers, and it should easily integrate with your existing customer database and customer relationship management (CRM) solution.

See your candidates' products in action, asking company-specific questions about their wares. Determine the amount of training, support and pre-implementation work required by each of the competing CEM products. Some developers offer vertical-market solutions for industries such as healthcare, retail, government or manufacturing. Others focus exclusively on B2C markets while others provide personalized portals or widgets. Some CEM solutions offer 'alarm' services that notify you when customers are becoming upset and threatening to go to competitors.

Hosted vs. In-House

Business have the option of in-house vs. hosted CEM solutions. Some organizations prefer to out-right own the CEM software and run the entire operation on their own hardware and networks, maintaining the technology with their own internal support staff and resources.

Others prefer to work with a hosting company that provides the hardware, network, software and manpower for a fixed monthly rate. In this software as a service (SaaS) scenario, you own the data but the partner provides the heavy-lifting and resources to quickly power-up and maintain the CEM solution.

Social Listening

Some social listening tools also allow businesses to keep track of what others are saying throughout the Internet by trolling publicly available information about your company and brands. They monitor the news and social media sites to aggregate public feedback and content, and provide you with this information so you can stay ahead of trends - good and bad - and be prepared to act.

Many social listening solutions incorporate a dashboard for a high-level view of how your company is viewed and portrayed, as well as the tools to drill-down for a deeper level understanding of the interactions between business and customer.

Long ago, angry customers wrote letters to the editors of their local newspapers and gossiped to friends about the poor service they received at the local market. They had few shopping choices and their remarks carried little weight. Today, the voice of one angry customer - whether the complaint is valid or not - reaches across oceans and is forever recorded.

Fortunately, social listening and customer experience management tools provide businesses with a way of capturing these words of worry and praise, and turning them into guides for future growth and profitability. End

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Customer Experience Management

CRM solutions focus on sales, marketing and support from the company perspective. CEM has emerged to focus on the customer needs and desires. CEM solutions integrate strategy, processes and technology to optimize each customer experience. The increased alignment delivers increased customer activity, advocacy, revenue and customer share.

 

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54% of online adults said user generated content on social media networks has influenced how they conduct online transactions. Of those influenced by social media, 64% avoided a vendor after reading a bad review and 59% used a vendor after reading a good review.

~ Harris Interactive

 

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