Demystifying CXM: What it is and What it is Not

It’s an all too common scenario. Something goes from “buzzword” to “buzzworthy” but, in the transition, that valuable tool, technique, trend, or technology winds up totally bogged down in confusion and misinformation. The latest victim: CXM, or customer experience management.

The reality is that every business is facing the challenge of rising customer expectations — and looking to create compelling, personalized experiences at scale that separate their offerings from the pack. Done right, those positive customer experiences can engage and convert people to buyers, and even make them long-term, high-value advocates. Win, win, win.

Customers expect companies to recognize them in real time and instantly provide the right experience at the right time on the right platform — period. CXM is the solution for meeting customers’ sky-high and constantly growing demands — businesses with established CXM tools and processes are nearly twice as likely to have exceeded their top business goal by a significant margin, after all.

The only issue is that while everyone talks CXM, at the end of the day, many can’t quite put their finger on the ins, the outs, and what exactly is driving the benefits. Let’s take a closer look.

What CXM is not

First, the misinformation and misconceptions. Very simply, CXM is not a basic rebranding of customer relationship management (CRM) — but there is some overlap. Consider CRMs as one piece of the puzzle. However, keep in mind that CRMs gather data through manual or batch entry, which is opposite to the real-time flow of data required for true CXM.

And remember, CXM is two things. First, it’s the technology itself, which, given its added benefits and capabilities, is superior to traditional CRM for the stated purpose. But CXM also requires a company to put in place processes to track, oversee, and orchestrate interactions and engagements with customers.

Because it’s both technology and processes, CXM is not and cannot be siloed. As long as your data sits locked away in various departments, teams, and tools, it’s impossible to deliver a true cross-channel customer experience. While you may see a few wins here and there, chances are your customer experiences will feel as disjointed as your data. Any vendor that claims to solve your CXM challenges in a single application does not understand CXM, period.

What successful CXM looks like

A true CXM strategy reacts to customer interactions and meets or, better, exceeds expectations. The end result is conversions, better customer satisfaction, and long-term loyalty. CXM also learns over time and effectively interprets signals that are distilled from millions of customer interactions to more accurately predict what content, offers, and experiences will be most compelling to known as well as anonymous individuals.

While this sounds simple enough, consider all of the ways customers interact with your brand — web, mobile apps, call centers, stores. At each touchpoint, those customers expect your brand to recognize and address their particular need immediately, with no lag, no confusion, and no missteps.

It’s a challenge, but it’s doable with a true CXM system, which will let you establish a quality customer profile containing every experience-relevant data signal tied to that customer. CXM requires a profile that draws in and unifies data from all systems, and that can draw on those data points in real time. Again, this is where CRM comes back into play — CRM will always be a critical component of any solid CXM technology stack, but CRM is insufficient by itself.

Once a profile is established it must be fully connected into your systems to deliver true cross-channel experiences across digital advertising, call centers, email, social media, and any other way you market to your customers. The more unified, real-time, and connected the profile is, the better your business can maximize operations and deliver amazing customer experiences that set you apart from your competition.

Beyond profiles, successful CXM requires four other key pillars — an open and extensible ecosystem and technology platform, creative agility to develop the right content even faster, cross-channel experience orchestration and delivery, and artificial intelligence (AI) for real-time decisioning.

Building CXM with Adobe

While this may sound like a tall order, this level of a unified profile is no longer theoretical. Adobe has created a powerful CXM solution — Adobe Experience Cloud running on Adobe Experience Platform is the first purpose-built customer experience management platform. It integrates real-time customer profiles, continuous intelligence, and open and extensible architecture, all coming together to make personalized customer experiences at scale a reality.

Taking CXM a step further, Experience Platform is now part of the Open Data Initiative (ODI), a joint effort with Adobe, Microsoft, and SAP. ODI provides the ability to take data from our three companies’ products and translate it all into a common data format. It enables more data to be combined seamlessly into one unified data lake that CXM profiles can use to deliver highly personalized experiences in real time and at scale.

Transforming your organization for CXM success

Remember, a successful CXM strategy requires more than just technology. Even as a unified profile demands that data be pulled out of individual silos and into a single place, organizational silos between departments and teams must also be torn down.

Often, this effort starts with an individual — a data engineer, for example — who has an aptitude for data and the passion to make things happen. Very quickly, however, the individual needs a cross-functional team to unify the data. A customer expert or advocate, as well as an expert on experience delivery, are a must. This team’s data governance function is critical to future CXM success, and the process also needs support from executives who may need to reset company culture to be all in on CX and CXM.

That said, these aren’t insurmountable obstacles — far from it. If you’re just starting out with CXM, consider small, simple, and nimble steps forward. Often, businesses spin their wheels planning large projects with quickly growing scopes, only to burn out before they see results.

Don’t make that mistake. Start with a basic use case, execute, and demonstrate ROI and progress. Often, the learnings from the first few attempts inform a much clearer vision — and generate some much-needed organizational enthusiasm — for future projects. While CXM represents a massive opportunity for brands, it starts with securing the right technology, assembling a group of capable, motivated individuals, and taking it one step at a time.

Find out more about how CXM strategies can enhance your customer experience delivery.