Customer experience management: how sales teams can extend their processes into the digital world

Dortmund | 17. January 2018

adesso AG explains how companies can successfully combine customer experience management (CEM) and customer relationship management (CRM) to bridge the gap between traditional and online sales.

Companies with complex, lengthy sales processes, such as mechanical engineering firms or manufacturers of high quality consumer goods, often use CRM systems as a central platform for the planning, management and monitoring of sales processes. Of course, such systems have their place, but in the age of digitalization they don’t go far enough – because they only come into play after a company has made initial, direct contact with a potential customer.

These days, interested parties generally access comprehensive information via digital channels before they contact a company. That means a significant part of the sales process takes place online, in advance. A CRM system alone does not let companies control this stage and influence it in their interest; in the worst-case scenario, a potential customer will choose a competitor during this information phase without the company ever knowing it.

That’s where a customer experience management (CEM) system comes in. The primary goal of such systems is to identify interested parties in the digital world, record their activities and analyse their behaviour – to provide them with exactly the right content at every relevant touchpoint based on that data. Companies that use a CEM system together with their CRM system can extend their sales processes into the digital world.

Potential customers are identified at an early stage and their level of interest can be increased by contact via digital channels. If the probability of them making a purchase exceeds a certain threshold, then they are transferred to the CRM system, which manages the downstream marketing and sales process.

The IT service provider adesso explains what qualities a CEM solution must have to optimally support such an approach:

1. Include all channels. The CEM solution should be capable of assessing all channels that potential customers typically use to find information – whether that’s through search engines, websites, online shops, social media or apps. That’s the only way to reliably identify interested parties by connecting data – such as cookies and IP addresses – and to analyse their online behaviour.

2. Offer a central data platform. Even the most comprehensive data loses half its value when it is separated into islands. That’s why a CEM solution should offer a central platform that consolidates all the available data, ensuring that it can be evaluated holistically and that no data is lost.

3. Create a golden customer record. Based on this centralised data, the solution should automatically create a single profile for each individual potential customer – the so-called golden customer record. That provides an overall picture of the exact topics, products and services an individual is interested in, which channels they use and their information history.

4. Support flexible rules. It should be possible to classify golden customer records using artificial intelligence. That lets companies assign a probability of closing to each potential customer using a scoring system and only transfer the really promising candidates, who exceed a particular threshold value, to the CRM system. The information received by the potential customer to date can also be evaluated, allowing sales to take a targeted approach.

5. Offer efficient real-time processing. The CEM solution must be capable of efficiently processing large quantities of data – ideally in real time. Potential customers whose score, based on their current online behaviour, exceeds the defined threshold are transferred to the CRM system immediately. That means the sales department doesn’t lose a moment of valuable time in the race with the competition.

“Companies that use CRM systems to manage customer communication have already laid the foundation for customer experience management,” says Michael Kenfenheuer, CEO of adesso AG. “When you supplement your CRM with CEM systems, it lets you see the whole customer – the boundary between the on- and offline world disappears. That lets you optimally support the customer journey at all points of contact – and thereby sell your products more successfully.”

Michael Kenfenheuer, CEO of adesso AG

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