The Difference Between CRM and CEM—and Why CSPs Need Both

Posted: June 5th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights, Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

I’ve recently been asked for my opinions on the difference between Customer Experience Management (CEM) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) with relation to the telecommunications sector. This is, indeed, an interesting question, especially considering the subtle, yet remarkable, differences in the answer.

Let’s first consider CRM, which has traditionally been defined as a means for communications service providers (CSPs) to manage the contact and various segmentation parameters of their customers. For instance, these systems provide the ability to build targeted campaigns based on demographic or other more or less rigid segmentation criteria. CRM also enables CSPs to react swiftly when customers are demanding new services or to respond, after the fact, to a negative customer experience.

We are now, however, operating in a time where managing the customer base through high level segmentation or post-event action isn’t sufficient enough, on its own, to ensure a differentiating customer experience. This is where CEM steps in. It can enable organisations to proactively—and even preemptively—engage with, and take appropriate targeted actions to avoid any challenges that might surface, such as quality of service issues.

Yet, the perception still exists that CEM is simply the ability to understand, in-depth, the manner in which services are being used by subscribers and having the availability of related transactional data. While this helps broaden the knowledge about CSPs’ customer bases, their needs and preferences, we are now living in a time when CEM can be extended to encompass true personalised and proactive action.

Coupling real-time data from services and networks with a contextual understanding of a customer’s situation leverages both the CRM and CEM concepts to place real intelligence in the palm of CSPs. This level of contextual intelligence will, undoubtedly, bring with it great customer experience and differentiating opportunities.

The recently announced CIQ4T (Contextual Intelligence for Telecommunications) concept addresses this need and opportunity to link together CRM and CEM. It leverages advanced predictive analytics to provide a holistic, contextual understanding of individual subscribers’ usage patterns, behaviours and circumstances to proactively drive personalised interaction and improve overall experience.

After all, the battle for incumbent versus challenger in the telecommunications space is no longer being fought in the infrastructure build-out, but instead on CSPs’ ability to retain customers and build a positive reputation for service. Subscribers have so many options when it comes to selecting a CSP; it’s imperative for operators to proactively influence and eventually anticipate the needs and wants of its customers. So it really isn’t about defining the difference between CRM and CEM, it’s about making them work holistically together. #CIQ4T


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