I've always been fascinated with customer loyalty, and have recently begun a mini academic study on the difference between Customer Relationship Management and Customer Experience Management (CRM vs. CEM). Working at a digital agency now, I can clearly see the distinction between CRM and CEM. CRM is a total tool. It is something that your company has to make a key priority and institute it within the entire company. As an agency, it is something you cannot do on your own. CEM, is all about managing customer experiences. And this something an agency, specifically a digital agency, can have a significant amount of control over.
In Meyer and Schwager's article, HBR Understanding Customer Experience, they define CEM as the user experience which encompasses every aspect of a company's offering. It is an experience at every touchpoint that a consumer evaluates with an expectation vs. the actual experience. If the expectation, the hype doesn't actually live up to the experience, then you have a serious gap. What was most interesting in this article and I find relevant to the interactive industry, is that more and more important touchpoints are beginning to occur on the web. Things are becoming more complex in the digital field. More choices are available and their are more options to pursue them. We thus begin to see one or two key touchpoints on the web become a dozen, and consumers expect at least a consistent experience and are floored when you deliver something completely innovative.
Digital agency's that begin to come back with CEM offerings to a clients CRM offering will offer a great deal of value, instead of a frustrated client. I'll finish off with a good example: "A customers experience with an Apple device begins well before the purchaser turns on their iPOD. It may begin with a t.v. commercial or product placement in a movie. It may have been your friends iPOD or product sample in the mall." What this says to me, is that a digital agency can control a few steps in this process and that is it...for now. As Apple and many other companies begin to shift their primary product offerings via the web, more of the touchpoint process will be online, and be made better by an agency