Why CEM no longer equals just CRM

Customer Experience Management (CEM) is a classic example of a knowledge worker discipline.  Today’s knowledge worker needs the ability to quickly find and utilize customer information in order to deliver the best possible customer experience.  When software is used as part of CEM in an organization, the ideal solution should utilize not only Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software but also Business Process Management (BPM) Software.  As such the knowledge worker needs to be able to move in and out of the worlds of CRM and BPM interchangeably.  Remember your high school physics?  Sometimes light behaves like a wave and sometimes like a particle.  CEM is similar with regards to its relation to both CRM and BPM simultaneously.  Sometimes the knowledge worker needs the flexibility of CRM style activities while at other times that same worker needs the rigorous repeatable discipline that only BPM can provide.  Any solution that ignores one side of this equation will inevitably result in an incomplete and potentially undesirable CEM outcome.


One thing I have noticed over the years is that the CRM world generally does not tend to know much about BPM.  On the other hand the BPM world has a much better understanding of CRM.  The explanation is relatively simple and is akin to the same reason why the stereotypical American is often accused of not knowing much about the rest of the world.  The ignorance is a simple matter of relative size.  CRM is a $15 to $20 billion a year market while BPM is about 1/3 the size.  So, it makes sense that those immersed in CRM will often be oblivious to their counterparts in the BPM world.  This is one of the main reasons that focus needs to be brought to this subject, and it is important to highlight the different benefits of both CRM and BPM when it comes to CEM.  Otherwise, CEM will always be equated with CRM thereby resulting in an incomplete and unfulfilling customer experience.


At the crossroads of CRM and BPM exists ACM (Adaptive Case Management).  Although there are some other nuances regarding what makes ACM unique, for the most part it is the meeting of these two worlds.   Like many things in life, things tend to be interesting at the crossroads.  ACM is no exception.  Today, ACM is being discussed as the future of the BPM industry.  This position is not without its controversy.  Just have a look at the argument here on Bruce Silver’s blog between two BPM luminaries – Bruce Silver and Keith Swenson.  This is the place where we are going to see lots of future developments in disciplines like CEM.


It is fair to say that the knowledge worker needs freedom – freedom to resolve a customer issue in the best and most efficient possible way.  However, there are times where structure trumps freedom and when a system needs to relieve the knowledge worker of his/her typically thought intensive “freedom” by imposing a pre-determined process structure.  This combination is where ACM shines.


Take the example of a casino.  Casinos are an interesting use case because they have very strict compliance rules to follow and because they are extremely focused on the customer experience.  In fact, casinos tend to be leaders in CEM and have long understood the importance of CEM.  If you doubt me just think about the special attention that casinos pay to lighting or their use of scent machines to induce certain behaviors, or, of course, all the free drinks that you received the last time you went to Vegas.


Let’s look at an example.  A typical casino might have a sales policy that permits the casino to reinvest up to 15% in any particular client.  In this case if reinvestment (room comps, drinks, free chips, etc) exceeds the allowable limit then the casino might want to setup a rule whereby management is immediately alerted and an approval process is kicked off.  Perhaps the process should kick a case out to a manager for approval and then generate another type of action.  Perhaps the entire customer record in the CRM needs to be run against a business rules engine at this point to see what other actions might need to be taken depending on the exact type of customer (occasional visitor vs. high roller).  Would a casino really want to leave the launching of this process up to a decision of the knowledge worker? No, of course not.  This action needs to be generated by an intelligent system and then followed according to a very specific protocol.  This ensures that CEM can be handled and managed appropriately but also repeatedly.


It is important not to equate CEM with CRM.  True CEM needs to take into account both the flexibility afforded by CRM and the strict process logic enforced by BPM technology.  In the future organizations will begin to appreciate more and more what these hybrid systems can offer because of the growing complexity required for successful CEM.  At Colosa, we in fact, have taken a big step in this direction with the release of our new BPM system for SugarCRM – the world’s leading open source CRM.  This new solution, called ProcessMaker – SugarCRM Edition, is a  module that works inside SugarCRM.  The resulting combo is a fantastic ACM style hybrid system that adds completely new dimensions and possibilities to SugarCRM.  In fact, in the future, successful CEM will no doubt have more in common with Adaptive Case Management than with pure Customer Relationship Management.

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