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Blindness and Insight: Ignore the CEM Imperative At Your Peril

big winOur latest Insight Paper, The CEM Imperative: Customer Experience in the Age of the Empowered Consumer, establishes that customer experience management is no longer an option, a nice-to-have, or a remote step in the five year strategic plan. On the contrary, the mobile and social empowerment of consumers makes CEM an inescapable, compulsory, and essential initiative for virtually every company’s survival. The paper is now available for free download (after a painless registration step).

Two reports highlight both the immense sums that are up for grabs around customer experience – and also the puzzling refusal of many firms to take some obvious steps toward improving the quality of the experiences they offer.

Accenture has recently released the first report based on their 2013 Global Consumer Pulse Research study. This survey of over 13,000 consumers in 33 countries reveals, for example, that 66% switched service providers due to unsatisfactory customer service in the past year. Of these, 82% said that the provider could have prevented the switch – and the report highlights typical consumer frustrations with “false promises” about data usage (cited by 79% of the respondents), inconsistent offers across channels (65%), and constantly being asked the same questions or receiving the same offer (79%).

You Want a Piece of Me? – The Six Trillion Dollar Pie

The report also states that in 2013, the amount of revenue “put into play” globally due to consumers switching product and service providers amounted to an astonishing $5,900,000,000,000. For North America alone the estimate was $1.4 trillion; for Western Europe $1 trillion; for China and India $1.7 trillion. (And we can safely assume that the total will be over $6 trillion in 2014.)

Accenture seems confident of their well-documented calculations, but the exact number isn’t very important – maybe it was merely hundreds of billions of dollars in North America rather than well over a thousand billion. But with that kind of prize at stake, isn’t this a competition you want to be part of? Isn’t this a race that your company should be willing – and eager – to enter?

Well, the bad news is that you have no choice – you cannot not be a part of this race, because competing for customers and revenue with experiences is today the basic condition of business as such.

And the worst news is that these hundreds of billions are not a prize put up by some organizers – the money paid to the winners is taken from the pockets of the losers. Failing to place near the top in CEM isn’t just unfortunate and disappointing – it is financially disastrous, since the laggards pay to lose.

Clients Behaving Badly – Old Habits Die Hard

But despite the huge stakes, too many companies are clinging to old habits. According to an October, 2013 article in AdAge, digital agencies are increasingly refusing to respond to RFPs. The agencies cite numerous reasons for walking away from potentially lucrative business: “Fees offered by potential clients are too low; timelines for pitches too short; briefing documents are too vague; and many marketers overstep bounds by demanding that agencies relinquish ownership of their ideas to them.”

No doubt, companies could easily compile a similar list of agency misbehaviors. But, as we’ve demonstrated in our Guide to Service Providers for Web Content and Customer Experience Management, the critical need is for companies and service providers (including agencies) to work more closely together than ever to understand consumers, create engagement strategies, and build the necessary tools, processes, and teams for successful CEM.

Instead, the AdAge article shows that, beyond (or below) the RFP process, some firms are taking steps that can only lead away from improved customer experiences, for example by reducing the marketing headcount, or turning service provider selection over to the procurement department – thus negating a strategic partnership in favor of the lowest possible fee.

Dispel the FUD around CEM

In The CEM Imperative, we address and refute the misconceptions and confusions that encourage firms to deny or deride the need for customer experience management. CEM is not vendor hype, because it is a response to the desires and expectations of todays extremely demanding and fickle consumers. CEM is not a back-burner consideration because, as the Accenture report and innumerable other studies prove, engaging consumers with superior experiences is a matter of life or death for any firm that . . . cares about having customers. (This includes B2C, B2B, governmental and non-profit organizations.) And CEM is neither familiar, easy, nor a turn-key technology solution; success depends on a commitment to significant transformations of teams and processes, careful (but rapid) selection of tools for the overall software ecosystem, and long-term partnerships with multiple service providers.

Whether you’re a vendor, a service provider, or, most importantly, an employee frustrated by your company’s confusion or blindness about CEM, we encourage you to download the Insight Paper. I look forward to your comments, suggestions, and . . . criticisms!

DCG’s Guide to Service Providers for Web Content and Customer Experience Management is now available at a reduced price of $349 for the complete 270-page report covering 42 service providers in North America. Our newest guide, covering over 45 service providers in Europe is also available for $349.


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