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Management vs. Customer Relationship Management

How is Customer Experience Management different from Customer Relationship Management?

Two sides of the same coin? Or how CRM and CEM supplement each other

In the quickly expanding field of customer experience, tools and terms can get confusing. You’ve just invested a large sum in a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software that your Sales Director promoted as the solution to all your customer data challenges. Why would you need to explore yet another tool called a Customer Experience Management (CEM) platform? How could it possibly help?

The CEM and CRM platforms are both dedicated to fostering closer, better, more effective, and more beneficial partnerships with customers. However, they are focused on different aspects of this major task:

  • A CRM platform gathers and organizes all functional interactions between a customer and the company. In a sales cycle based on a continuous communication stream, all interactions with company representatives, marketing tools, stores, and others come together in a set of powerful metrics to help define the success of the customer acquisition and retention strategy. A CRM compiles all data to allow for analysis of gaps in the conversion process. In this sense, a CRM platform provides a comprehensive set of customer interactions and behaviors.


  • A CEM platform gathers continuous customer feedback in a consistent and systematic manner. In a competitive environment where customers are exposed to competitor messages and peer reviews, it is easy to lose a customer with each less successful interaction. Thus, the CEM platform can investigate customer experiences at each defined touchpoint, analyze existing feedback from social media and other external sources, and diagnose gaps in customer satisfaction. In this sense, a CEM platform provides a clear set of customer attitudes and perceptions to company interactions, brand and overall performance, as well as tools to positively influence these.

Are the two platforms substitutes or supplements? The clear answer is that they work together for a common goal: collecting and analyzing customer data to improve sales and retention strategies and achieve competitive advantage. Combining what customers do with what they think and feel gives a powerful tool to segment customers, prioritize actions based on their potential monetary value, rescue customers at risk, and pinpoint next best actions for each customer or a segment of customers.

Companies are still faced with the logistical challenge of having two separate systems to manage customer experience. On a daily operational level, however, the platforms can work as one: smooth system integrations give unlimited options to design the best fitting workflow by employee group, while data is transferred automatically to grant full information transparency. A more tangible example of how this could look for your employees is outlined in the case study below.

Customer experience is already replacing price and product as the main company differentiator. Companies at the forefront of this change are already building strong long-term relationships with customers, increasing active recommendations, and future-proofing their business in the customer age.

If you would like more information on how the two systems operate, drop us a line at




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