My CEM Journey: Struggling with the old demons of Marketing & Strategy – Part 1

by Frédéric Gilbert.

More than ever it is obviously a challenge to help mindsets evolve and embrace the new vision of the customer that is embedded within CEM.

As I move in educating & working along with customers, students & peers I have come to understand and identify the main reasons why CEM is yet to be entirely accepted as major breakthrough in marketing & organizational strategies.

Here are the 1st four obstacles I have encountered:

CEM is just an add-on to traditional Marketing

Most people consider that taking care of the overall experience of your customers is if not optional, the last of their thoughts. For most of the people involved in marketing they see CEM as experience during purchase. Well for them & those who ignore it CEM starts from the moment you think of your customer, who he/she is, what he/she likes & so on. CEM is not an add-on it is a new approach of marketing! you focus on loyalty & satisfaction first and then on figures & the means to increase them. Your customers are people, not segments.

Channel vs Channel mindset

CEM implies delivering value in the best possible way, through the most appropriate touch points, to your customer. That is you need not to focus on channels but on your value proposition & the way to get it to your customers. Too many companies still think in terms of Silos, Channels & have them compete with one another. In the end customers are not treated as they should be and you lose profits. So identify your customers & have them do their purchasing on the touch points he/she prefers, regardless of your organisation. Think Customers not Channels! Reminds me of a customer who wanted to increase his sales on the web, with the same customer who would not accept spending more then 20% online. Well in the end we considered finding a customer that could use the value proposition of the company but would prefer purchasing on the web for 50%. We found him… and guess what ? company doubled web turnover but also got 25% of new customers in their stores. Not bad, uh?

4 P’s approach: It’s not enough but it’s simple

Another obvious obstacle that we are facing is that the 4 P’s approach is still the pillar of Marketing in organisations & business schools. Innovative approaches have a hard time getting into the minds. The truth is 4P’s are KISS compliant, it is really simple & easy to reach out for in the early stages of strategy. Hence CEM needs an easy to remember gimmick, an “idea worth spreading” as Seth Godinn would say. Now practioners we need to get this done.

Conflicts between departments.. ie Who is leading change? IT ? Marketing ? Sales ? Financials ?

Furthermore CEM is a vision that needs to bridge disciplines & have egos accept collaboration, cooperation & coordination. Genuine dedication to serving customers as if it we were serving ourselves is not a part time job and require the whole company to work as one. Unfortunately we are taught to work in silos and to keep it this way. Why ? Probably because trust is rare & not rewarded as much as great figures! Yes trusting that whatever it is that your coworkers do they do it the best they can to serve the customer. This why in leading CEM evolution it takes more than deciding which department should lead. The best approach is to build crossdisciplinary teams & groups to involve everyone in defining new metrics, processes & goals. For sure evolution will require that finance, marketing, sales, support, production to reengineer their day to day work. But successful CEM companies have proven the concept & its high profitability. Break silos & find leaders that can bridge & federate inside and outside.

These are 4 of the many demons we are struggling with. Next week I’ll go over 4 others that will undoubtedly need to be defeated.


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