Meeting Your Customers Where They Are, Anytime, Anywhere

Meeting Your CustomerMany made predictions as 2013 kicked off, but one caught my eye. Forrester’s Nigel Fenwick called this new year the Year of Digital Business. As Fenwick points out, there has been a communications evolution that has many retailers scrambling to find ways to get closer to their customers with innovative new technology to beat the competition.

Customer Experience Management

There are a few names for this trend like digital experience management and digital customer experience, but the one that seems to be sticking is customer experience management, or CEM. Fenwick explains it this way:

As we move into 2013, we’re seeing an increased focus from our clients on customer experience. As mobile, social, cloud, and big data come together we see the emergence of digital business strategy: the ability to leverage digital technologies to transform the customer value equation and drive competitive advantage. The challenge for most will be to keep up with the pace of change.

This is a call to action for both technologists and marketers, which requires new levels of cooperation across traditional silos. Fenwick’s assertion challenges us to decide the scope of CEM, as it touches so many aspects of technology and process, that include (but are not limited to): location, inventory, transaction history, offers, omni-channel, and loyalty. This may look like a daunting list, but in reality, there are ways to start small and build on existing infrastructure to allow quick successes.

Real-time CEM

Real-time information and response rates are the key to “modern” CEM. It can be a bitter pill to swallow, but many of the systems implemented in recent years lack the ability to sense and respond in the way CEM describes. They just aren’t “operational” or effective down to the needs of individual customers. This doesn’t mean we’re starting over. Integration infrastructure combined with SaaS applications can make up the gap in ways that can be effective in months.

CEM is creating all new expectations on the part of retailers and their customers paving the way for meaningful interactions. Each new evolution of customer experience management gives us new ways to get closer to our customers anytime and anywhere.