Will CRM Be Displaced by Customer Engagement?

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definition that lends more agency to the customer and acknowledges that customer experience is not a fixed point of contact, but a continuous process.

So how do you track and manage that kind of fluidity? How does a company like SAP put it into a system that companies can actually use?

The Technology of Engagement

The ideology of customer engagement—which overlaps with CRM—seems to find its incarnation in the even newer field of customer experience management (CXM).

Gartner defines this as "the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy."

In most cases, that practice takes the form of a multichannel, comprehensive system that an organization can use to seek out, meet, and understand its customers at every point of their journey—whether it is on the phone, Web site, mobile app, social media, email, and so on.

There are a handful of vendors on the market that provide CXM solutions. Most are cloud-based and offer features that manage and interpret a variety of digital contact points. More competitive products have advanced features, such as the ability to analyze speech and text based on vocal cues, and make upselling recommendations. If you're interested in a CXM product, try to find one that integrates easily with your existing CRM software. Otherwise, you may need to do some re-engineering or get IT involved.

The product market and the ideology still lack definition, so it's hard to say which approaches will gain traction, which will recede into obscurity, whose definition of customer engagement is the best, and which practices (among engagement, CXM, and CRM) will become subsets versus categories of their own.

Wherever the chips fall, though, we know that any platform would starve without customer data and the means to store and analyze it. We also know that, no matter how progressive companies become at engaging with customers (moderating comments on a Facebook post, offering live chat with an agent on their Web sites, letting customers nominate them for an ice bucket challenge), the meat and potatoes of operations (actually booking the sale, performing the service request, keeping records) will still take place in the original, "old school" system. You can rest assured that CRM will continue to be a crucial part of the business paradigm for the foreseeable future.

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