CRM vs CEM: Two Sides of One Coin

While most people reading this will be familiar with the acronym ‘CRM’ (Customer Relationship Management), others may not be as familiar with CEM (Customer Experience Management). In our readings of CRM articles, CEM is getting increased coverage, with some authors going as far as suggesting it will replace CRM, so AccTech Systems thought we would explain the two.



What is CRM?

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems help businesses such as yours to manage their customers and business processes, growing and adapting to the unique needs of your industry.

CRM allows you to store customer data, record tasks and activities and automate notifications and reminders.

What is CEM?

Also called ‘CX’ (Customer Experience) is the management of the experiences a customer has with a vendor. The marketing folk refer to this as ‘Service Design’. As with many things in life, if CEM is done well it is imperceptible; if it is done poorly, it can be torturous.

The Commonalities of CRM and CEM

CRM and CEM are designed to achieve the same outcome, to align the products and services to the needs of your customers and ensuring the business interaction is as smooth and consistent as possible, they just go about it in different ways.

In the case of CRM, this is done by

  • encouraging transparency and consistency in customer interactions
  • capturing feedback from customers to assist in improving processes
  • centralising information so all parts of the business have a full picture of the customer and their needs

In the case of CEM, the exercise involves mapping the customer touch-points (how they interact with a vendor) and then ensuring these are aligned to the customer’s expectations and the values of the vendor.

The Differences of CRM and CEM

In the case of CRM systems, the focus is on ensuring the user can perform the interaction as efficiently as possible and capture the key information needed to ensure the business can be managed effectively. The idea is, if the user can do their job efficiently and effectively, they will have time to give the customer the attention they need and the information on hand to make the interaction delightful.

The focus for CEM is not the user, but the customer. CEM ensures the experience for the customer is efficient and effective. While long waits on the phone to talk to a customer representative may be inevitable, given the resources available, an alternative is to offer the customer a call back service or encourage them to check an online FAQ while waiting. This is an example of improved CEM.

What Can Help Customers Most? CRM or CEM?

Accenture conducts an annual Global Consumer Pulse Survey. The latest survey (2013) has some insights on what frustrates customers globally with customer services:



In terms of which can help most, the CRM system or CEM, it is a bit of a mixed bag. A better designed CRM system can help with:

  • Automated escalation and notification processes to ensure a customer does not need to contact a company multiple times for the same reason.
  • Ensuring a customer’s information is readily available so a customer does not have to repeat themselves.
  • Ensuring personal information is secure and only appropriate information is shared within the organisation and outside of it.

CEM can help with:

  • Ensuring there are options other than being on-hold
  • Ensuring service agents are respectful and actually listen
  • Aligning brand promise to service delivery
  • Ensuring, if a question cannot be answered, there are options to escalate so that it can

This shows it is not CRM or CEM but CRM and CEM. Both work together to ensure an optimal outcome for customers.