CRM vs CEM: Which One Is More Important For Your Company?

As the importance of customers in the overall well-being of organizations continues to be recognized, customer information has become a vital tool for gaining a better understanding of customer behavior and the things that drive them to become loyal customers. This brings us to the question, which one should we focus on? Customer relations or customer experience?

Albeit sharing numerous similarities, customer experience management software (CEM) and customer relations management software providers have been developed with different goals in mind. It is a known fact that the two platforms are primarily meant to collect and manage customer data. However, they also offer users insights that result in improved sales and customer relationships.

Given these capabilities, it’s no wonder that businesses continue to confuse one with the other, often questioning the value of CEM given the fact that they are already collecting and analyzing customer data using CRM systems. So, between CRM and CEM, which is the better system? To get a clearer perspective of the two platforms, let’s take a closer look at their functionalities to be able to better understand the goals which they are designed to achieve.

In this article, we will discuss the functions of both CEM and CRM systems and the benefits that businesses can reap from using them.


What is the Definition of CEM?

Most popular CEM software were developed to gain a deeper understanding of customer experience in order to glean valuable insights from such a perspective. So what does CEM system do? CEM was created to capture and manage experiential information, which can be used to significantly boost customer experience and ultimately, improve client loyalty. The process involves shifting one’s focus to customers by listening to them, evaluating feedback and seeking a better understanding of client views. Many organizations have come to recognize the importance of customer experience and its growing impact on corporate brands

CEM software essentially helps businesses track and organize client transactions in the course of the entire customer lifecycle. It optimizes such interactions as a means to build customer loyalty. CEM must be accompanied by management techniques that govern all interactions with customers. With these tools, businesses get to have a clear view of their customers using account and profile information, many of which are built using data acquired from channels like phone calls, live chat, purchases and test and social media. There are tons more that these platforms can offer your organization, which can be realized through CEM integration.

What Does A CRM System Do?

To answer the question–what does a CRM system do?–such software helps businesses establish strong relations with their clients, improve revenue and boost conversations using customer information captured from channels such as websites, phone calls and social media, among many others. Businesses utilize CRM tools to manage and evaluate customer data, use disconnected information to identify areas of opportunity, come up with loyalty campaigns and make sales funnels. This is basically the purpose of CRM, however, the best thing about such platforms is that they enable users to categorize clients according to expectations, allowing them to provide due attention to prospects. now, these are but examples of how businesses are using CRM. This is not to mention the numerous additional functionalities that CRM integration offers. There are more reasons for businesses to use CRM, just take a look at how other companies have thrived from using this tool.

There is no doubt that CEM relates to CRM in some respect and given all the benefits that your business can reap from using both platforms, which can be a sound strategy for building better customer relationships. There is no question that these systems can work together for your business. It’s all a matter of knowing how to utilize them to achieve optimal results.

Examples of CRM

There are lots of CRM solutions out in the market, most of which are designed to boost businesses’ earnings. We have compiled a list of some of the most popular examples of CRM software.

1. HubSpot CRM

hubspot crm dashboard example

A popular CRM platform, HubSpot CRM is a leading tool from application vendor Hubspot. This popularity is most likely due to the fact that the solution comes for free. It is highly flexible and can immediately be used right after installation. The software also does not require changes in users workflows in order to be used. It is highly-suited to businesses big and small, who want to explore the benefits of a CRM system. Known for its ease-of-use, HubSpot CRM features are just what is required in such a system, without their complexities.

HubSpot can organize customer information with ease, enabling businesses to create both company and contact profiles. The system assigns and tracks deals while taking total control over agent performance. Meanwhile, all members of sales teams are allowed to track all activities using the software. The system has robust third-party app integrations, which include Salesforce, Zapier, Microsoft Dynamics and Zapier.

You can quickly get the app at no cost when you sign up for the HubSpot CRM free app here.

2. Freshsales

freshsales dashboard example

Freshsales is a powerful product CRM solution from vendor Freshdesk. It is highly-suited to modern sales teams, aiding them in tracking contacts while resolving inquiries and concerns. After all, the software was developed with the vendor’s own need to handle its sales process in mind and the need to empower users to get tasks done from a single platform. It is basically a single contact management program that aids users in managing thousands of leads from a very easy-to-use interface. No wonder it’s one of the top 3 CRM systems around. It can also serve as a dynamic analytic contributor that provides sales tips and insights on how to leverage the same. Freshsales is easy to set up because it does not come with complicated and bulky procedures. Among numerous Freshsales details is its numerous popular third-party app integrations and ability to keep all transactions in the cloud. Prominent features include direct calls, email tracking, sales management, lead management and analytics and reporting.

You can use its premium features for free for a period of time; simply sign up for a Freshsales free trial here.

3. Salesforce CRM

salesforce crm dashboard example

Salesforce CRM is another tool worth looking into. It was developed as part of app developer Salesforce’s sales and marketing solutions. It empowers users to track all customer information and interactions using a single program, allowing them to follow more leads. All the apps required to follow leads until such time that they are ready for conversion are provided by the system. Sales teams, likewise, get that much-needed boost as they can access the system whether they are in the office, out in the field or even in cyberspace. Among the many Salesforce CRM benefits is the fact that Android and iOS apps come with the software, along with custom reports, real-time data and a Feed First functionality, which gives users a ready view of all pertinent information. If you choose to add more functions to the platform, you can do so via AppExchange Apps. It seamlessly integrates with third-party applications such as, TeamSupport, FinancialForce ERP, Zendesk, Ambassador and Zuora.

The vendor offers a comprehensive free trial offer. You can easily sign up for a Salesforce CRM free trial here.

4. Pipedrive

pipedrive dashboard example

Pipedrive is a powerful CRM solution that aids users in organizing leads, offering them with clear visibility into their sales so that they could focus on transactions that need prioritizing. Pipedrive is easy-to-use, all that is needed is to register an account and you can explore the system right away. But sales pipeline management is perhaps one of the most useful Pipedrive features. It can aid sales teams in negotiating deals and keeping lead relationships while promoting users’ brands. Entire modules can be turned on and off if needed, without service quality being affected. The product is mobile optimized so that it can serve more users. The system can integrate readily with apps like Google Apps, Google Calendar and Google Contacts.

We highly recommend that you try its features (at no cost) to fully evaluate the software. Simply sign up for a Pipedrive free trial here.

5. Insightly

insightly dashboard example

A popular online tool targeted at small businesses, CRM system Insightly boasts over 500,000 users around the world. This cloud-deployed CRM software also offers enterprise-grade CRM modules for large and multi-level organizations. Prominent features include pipeline, task and contact management, which help users gain total visibility of their businesses. It also boosts customer communication, track deliverables and support collaboration within companies. The platform comes with iOS, Kindle and Android apps, which cater to users who are on the go. Popular integrations include Google Apps, Evernotes, Gmail, MailChimp, Outlook and Office.

6. iEnterprise CRM

Aimed towards small to mid-sized businesses, iEnterprise CRM is ideal for companies that are looking for a feature-rich platform for generating and managing leads as well as nurturing their clients. It features both simple and advanced CRM tools that can greatly help companies improve their sales performance and eventually take their business to new heights. Some of the notable iEnterprise CRM benefits include improved lead qualifying, crystal clear view of opportunities in your pipeline, and centralized activity management. Users can also work on their tasks on the fly and easily check relevant information whenever they want thanks to its mobile applications for Android and iOS devices.

Examples of CEM

If you are shopping for a CEM platform, there are lots of vendors who offer powerful systems and then some. The following are examples of CEM software that could greatly benefit your organization.

1. Yotpo

yotpo dashboard example

A very popular and noteworthy CEM tool, Yotpo is a content marketing application specifically targeted at retail businesses and e-Commerce stores. The system makes it possible for users to generate product reviews, which can be used as sales-increasing incentives. One of the most impressive Yotpo features is that it is also a plug-and-play social reviews and eCommerce platform that has the ability to collect tons of verified reviews, while providing customers a rich and mobile-first experience. Regardless of your market share, the app can boost your business’ credibility, which can also be embedded where most traffic come from. The software basically enables users to convert visitors into paying customers with much ease than your average solution. It tracks each and every customer that visit your site. It harnesses the truth as told by past buyers to promote your products and services. To top it all off, Yotpo has a customer retention tool in place, so that its benefits go beyond the customer purchase, paving the way for return clients.

If you want to check its features first and at no cost you can easily do so when you sign up for a Yotpo free demo here.

2. Qualtrics

qualtrics dashboard example

CEM software solution Qualtrics Customer Experience is designed to help users collect customer feedback. Using its native predictive intelligence engine, the system extracts deep insights and forecasts the main drivers of a business’ customer experience. Other Qualtrics details include the fact that it allows users to collect customer data using transactional and pulse surveys, to name a few. It has a Net Promoter Score, which gives users access to data so that they can streamline the way they measure customer experience. Using the system, you can optimize customer acquisition while leveraging customer loyalty and retention. Customer feedback is also integrated into corporate strategies by simplifying the way certain aspects of the customer journey are monitored, responded to and elevated. Other key features such as analytics, advanced research and a central view of all channels also come with the system.

You can sign up for a Qualtrics free trial here.

3. LiaCX

liacx dashboard example

Powered by Intouch Insight, CEM software LiaCX is a popular tool, aiding global companies in boosting brand reputation, making happy customers and increasing financial performance. It is part of vendor Intouch’s long line of solutions. LiaCX is a cloud-deployed tool that helps businesses with multiple locations in sectors that include the restaurant, retail and hospitality industries, allowing them to make more value and actions from customer experience programs. The system is built to manage big data and is mobile optimized so that it can be accessed anytime, anywhere. It essentially collects and mixes data in real time from numerous sources, including mobile checklists, surveys, mystery shopping, social media, operational audits and call centers. The platform also seamlessly integrates with third-party apps like Oracle, Salesforce and SAP.

The vendor has an appealing testing offer when you sign up for a LiaCX free trial here.

4. Intercom

intercom dashboard example

A customer support platform that makes use of behavioral and user intelligence targeting to help organizations gain a better understanding, improve and leverage customer communication, Intercom offers users insights on who uses a business’ products while providing tools to communicate with customers. To provide you with a better overview, targeted and in-app messages can be sent to customers, along with behavior-driven emails. Intercom provides an innovative means by which to acquire, engage and retain clients, making it ideal for use by marketing, sales and support teams. Features such as live chat, customer engagement and customer support are also present while users are also able to capture, qualify and nurture leads for later conversion. The solution also allows for the sending of targeted messages to onboard users, making of announcements and resolution of customer problems. Customer information and events can be tracked, allowing users to view their customers and their corresponding behaviors.

5. Contactually

contactually dashboard example

A web-based platform, Contactually helps businesses manage communication using a very intuitive interface. It is designed to cater primarily to SMBs who wish to be in constant communication with their collaborators, contractors and suppliers. The software also works great for freelancers who need to get in touch with numerous clients. Other notable benefits include its ability to import and organize contacts, merge accounts, use templates and even automate actions. Contacts can be shared among team members, who can be assigned to specific roles while keeping coordination with operations. Advanced features include messaging, targeting and segmentation, quarterly business and usage reviews, a library of nurturing content and more. Meanwhile, an open API that comes with the system allows for custom integrations. For support, the vendor has expert personnel and customer success managers on standby, not only to resolve problems, but to provide the best customer experience possible.

What Is The Perfect Customer Experience?

Today’s massive focus on customer experience management has put customer experience on the spotlight as perhaps the most important factor governing customer satisfaction, which surpasses other brand enhancing qualities like low pricing. So how does one create customer experience? Such is the product of collections of interactions throughout the customer relationship lifecycle.

Contrary to popular belief, customer experience is not limited to customer perception or is anchored on user experience and customer service. Despite the fact that these things play significant roles in customer experience, they do not make up the whole idea. Customer experience is the sum of all customer engagements with a business or brand, which include times prior to the sale, all of which directly affect customer relationship outcomes. So what is the perfect customer experience? To answer such a question would be a difficult undertaking. However, we can provide you with tips on how to come up with the ideal customer experience by following a customer experience management strategy. Here they are:

1. Set You Customer Experience Standards

In order to avoid inconsistencies in customer experiences, you must first decide how you want to define your customer experience. You can do this by setting you own standards. Remember, the experiences and messages that you give your clients must be uniform from the pre-purchase phase onwards. This can help you avoid friction with your customers, which may arise from mismanaged expectations.

2. Analyze Your Clients’ Needs

Not all customers have the same set of needs. Businesses who recognize this fact are known to succeed by acknowledging the fact and seeking to personalize customer experience using such needs as basis. This is why customer feedback is a very useful tool in shaping customer experience. Checking on customers also make them feel relevant and reminds them of their value to your business.

3. Identify Customer Problems

Let’s say you are already aware of the unique needs of your customers and that you take great care in meeting such needs. This is where you can shift emphasis to problem areas, which can negatively affect customer experience. You can do this by identifying major paths that your clients take through the use of a customer journey map. Key touch points such as reasons for underperformance, areas of improvements and recurrent issues can also be identified.

4. Focus On Improving Customer Experience

Being able to provide excellent customer experience is one thing, maintaining such is another. Once you are done identifying problem areas, you may now want to focus on the larger concerns. You can identify recurring issues and find ways to address them. Areas of potential improvements can also be determined. All these can be accomplished using customer data.

5. Implement Changes That Are Measurable

Having identified potential problem areas and gleaned valuable materials, you are now in a position to make changes to your business. However tempting this may be, doing so could do you more harm than good. You are better off planning improvements that are measurable over time. For example, measuring bounce rates and case deflection rates could lead to an optimized customer knowledge base, which can help make self-service content accessible. Such information could effect improvements in customer experience.

In a nutshell, both CRM and CEM help strengthen customer relationships. However, it is CRM that handles the relationship-building process, whereas CEM’s emphasis is on customer experience monitoring and optimization. Both platforms have something and everything to do with customer journeys and interactions. Despite their differences, the two systems essentially complement each other, with one laying the foundation for the other.

By now you should be able to distinguish between the benefits of CRM and CEM software. However, if you are a small business seeking to automate your customer relationship processes, read our article on the top 5 CRM software for small business. It will help you learn more about improving your client relationship while growing your business at the same time.

Adam Goldberg

By Adam Goldberg

Adam Goldberg is a senior market research analyst and one of the key customer experience technology and CRM pioneers working for the FinancesOnline review team. He has been cooperating with FinancesOnline for over 5 years now. During that time Andrew has analyzed more than 2,000 CRM solutions and he’s well-known for his honest reviews and his unique perspective on challenges and opportunities posed by customer-centric innovation. He’s a strong believer in business process automation and the role it plays in customer data management, conversational intelligence, and customer engagement. His work has been mentioned in many major publications and media sites, including MSN, Springer, TheNextWeb, and CIO.

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