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How Customer Experience Management (CEM) is Different from Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?

What is customer experience management? How does it differ from customer relationship management? Objective of customer experience management methodology.

Sandhya Subramanyan
Jun 25, 2019

Customer experience management

Both Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Customer Experience Management (CEM) are important aspects of keeping customers happy and gain insights about them by leveraging the power of data. However, it is important to know that both of them are not the same thing. They have different objectives and functionalities in the process of customer management.

CRM is more about tracking customers, driving sales and resolving issues. CEM, on the other hand, has a more holistic approach for attracting and retaining customers by providing a great experience.

To put in simple words, CRM deals with things that happen before a user has been acquired, whereas CEM is about what happens once the user is on board. While CRM is like a business strategy for sustaining sales, marketing and activities related to customer service; CEM is about knowing what a customer wants, what motivates them to keep coming back to your app, your ability to understand their behavior and then reacting accordingly for the best outcome. In addition, CEM allows you to manage all the touchpoints that a customer can have with your business and engage her with the right strategies.

Customer experience management
Source: Slideshare

For a business, it is valuable to implement both CRM and CEM for growth, therefore it is important to understand the difference between the two.

What is CRM?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) refers to a business strategy that was designed for improving revenues, increasing profits, reducing costs and enhancing customer loyalty. CRM is not just about applying technology, but an approach to understanding the needs of the customers to increase responsiveness towards their needs.

Customer Relationship Management
Source: Scoop.it!

Though initially started as a relationship management strategy, over the years CRM has become more popular in pipeline management, for foreseeing and directing sales in the future at various stages. CRM managers now use the platform for predicting future revenues accurately, analyzing the sales process and being alert about forthcoming sales growth or slump.

Main Objectives of CRM:

1. Maximize marketing

A CRM system provides businesses and professionals a scope to improve their marketing with segmentation tools, campaign management, tracking response and intuitive analytics. This ultimately results in lead generation and an increased pipeline, which is a great help to the sales representatives. With a CRM solution, you can work on strategies and rethink your tactics of what works best for your business.

2. Win more sales deals

CRM solutions nowadays help build a consumer history that eventually increases productivity in sales. In a single platform, deal information is updated, competitors are tracked and quotes are created. This makes it easier for the sales team to forecast and plan activities like an upselling, renewal of contracts, etc. By automating workflow and removing the tedious administration works, CRM is more focused on closing relevant deals as fast as possible.

3. Better customer support

A CRM system empowers businesses by streamlining the workflow, enhancing knowledge sharing and thus improving account management. These advantages actually help improve the quality of your services without exceeding the budget for expenses. When customers see that sales representatives are equipped with all the necessary information (customer history) to resolve their issues, they would be happy with the service and businesses can achieve lifetime customers.

In the end, the focus of CRM is basically generating sales and more revenue, with 90% of organizations using it for the same.

What is CEM?

Customer Experience Management (CEM) is a strategy devised by businesses to keep track of their interaction with all customers. Every business has different departments that interact with customers in their own way. CEM is about overseeing all of these interactions and making improvements accordingly to strengthen the brand-customer relationship.

The main focus of this system lies in bridging the gap between the customer experience you intend to give and the actual customer experience you provide. Be it through direct feedback, reviews, surveys and other forms of communication, CEM is about gathering all of this experiential data to understand customer viewpoint, optimize their journey and encourage brand loyalty.

Main Objectives of CEM:

1. Understanding user behavior

In order to provide a better experience, businesses must first understand what customers want and then decide the best way to provide the same. Monitor customer behavior to see how they interact with your application, observe if they are having any problems and then take a proactive approach to provide a solution. Understanding user behavior is very important when it comes to engagement, retention, conversion, lifetime value, and good experience.

A CEM platform uses analytics to collect and decode the data gathered from customers and by merging it with operational data, provides a deeper understanding of customer behavior and what needs to be done to bring improvement.

2. Interacting with every customer

In a Customer Experience Management system, interaction is for every customer and not only the ones who have a complaint or negative feedback. Along with that, you can automate responses in specific situations by setting triggers based on user behavior. For example, the system can alert you to a regular user not using your application for the last 10-12 days or a user not using a particular feature of your app. You can then take the appropriate engagement actions for each of these users.

CEM platforms can also add a touch of personalization in their engagement process based on their location, activity, visits and other behavior patterns. For example, you can send a push notification to a new user with tips about using the application better, inform about special discounts in case of shopping apps or give special incentives to get referrals.

3. Listening, analyzing & acting on feedback

Getting feedback, until now remains one of the most integral components of measuring and improving CX management. Businesses that use tools or platforms that help get feedback from their customers in real-time, stand a better chance to get proper responses. Moreover, in the digital era, where the millennial population is highly dependent on social media and apps, having a digital presence and gaining feedback from these channels is very important.

The insights gained from the feedback via surveys or emails are then used in a customer experience program to upgrade the experience for better satisfaction.

Customer Experience Examples


When it comes to experience management, Amazon has been able to set the high standards for all e-commerce retailers. The amazing experience you can get by using their app lets you browse through the deals and offers available in Amazon. If the product is not available, it allows users to set a reminder when it becomes available. This enables a huge chunk of customers to come back to the app.

There response rate on social media is beyond expectations. They monitor their twitter handle @AmazonHelp for 24 hours, seven days a week in seven languages. Their search algorithm is quite impressive too, much like Google. It can search through numerous parameters which makes it much easier for the user to get exactly what they want.


Spotify has totally changed the face of the online music industry. It has made streaming music an accessible and honest choice for the users who used to be dependent before on piracy. Its algorithm has exceptional capabilities of curating music and radio stations for its listeners based on their preferences. They offer special gifts to the customers who interact with their brand. For instance, they reward their customers by tailoring their individual playlists to answer the questions they raised on Twitter.

With best-in-class streaming technology and introducing fun and games in their customer interactions, Spotify has set the high standards for customer experience management.

Taylor & Hart

This is one of the jewellery retailer company whose customer experience management strategy got famous in its niche. They wanted to turn their casual visitors into one-time purchasers and their purchasers into lifetime promoters. Hence, they focused solely on Net Promoter Score (NPS) to raise its measure. So, they decided to measure this metric at two incidents: when the customer places an order and when the customer receives it.

The live NPS were displayed in the dashboard accessible to the whole team. The team took immediate measures to fix every part of the business from manufacturing to shipping to give a great CX to its users. After the persistent efforts towards customer feedback management, they were able to raise the NPS score to 80 which was the highest in their industry. And their revenues grew to 4.5 million Euros.

Final Thoughts

Customers are an important part of every business and keeping them happy and satisfied by understanding their behavior is imperative for your business growth. Therefore, investing in both Customer Experience Management and Customer Relationship Management can be a wise decision for creating strategies that add value to your business. Comprehensive customer experience management platforms like SmartKarrot combine behavioral analytics with automated engagement actions to help drive retention and consumer & product success.

Experience is a multi-touchpoint and multi-dimensional concept and needs the choice of multiple engagement options like notifications, feedback, gamification and proper incentivization to work in unison to succeed. SmartKarrot helps you do all that from a single platform.

Get the SmartKarrot advantage for your business today!

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Originally Published June 25th, 2019, Updated March 31st, 2021

Sandhya Subramanyan

Sandhya has over 17 years of experience across pre-sales, implementation, automation and Customer Success Management. Her vast experience encompasses both managing internal and external stakeholders and expectations. Her strength lies in planning, organizing and problem solving, that makes her highly efficient and effective team member.

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2 years ago

Jasmine Hewitt

This is super helpful for small businesses!

2 years ago

Wayne D.

Customer experience is indeed crucial, a complicated shopping cart experience will certainly turn away customers. It's very important to get customer feedback to understand what they found difficult and fix it.

2 years ago

George Harris

Interacting with every customer is tough but worthwhile to attempt and I’m glad you mention it. With emails going to customers, survey’s being sent out routinely, and checking in with users on social media, it all adds up and helps build brand loyalty and a sense of trust. Automating this even further would be very useful!

2 years ago

Gerry A.

Understanding customer behavior can be the key to maximizing your apps potential. I like to use a dynamic opening page tailored to the users needs based on how they use the app, this allows for quicker access to the things they need. Coupled with a well implemented feedback system, you are well equipped to deliver the experience people need.

2 years ago

Neil P.

An interesting read, I wouldn’t have made these distinctions before. CRM and CEM are very different and should be handled by individual experts. Custom experience is more important now than ever due to the competition in almost every industry, something has to differentiate one service from another. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to hire more staff to reach out to customers, gathering as much feedback as possible.

2 years ago

Derek J.

They are very different, yes. Each one should be managed separately by a specialist if possible. Having at least one person gathering customer feedback and understanding what the typical customer wants can be very beneficial for a company, these things need to be known. Similarly, having a marketing specialist can be great for maximizing sales. One person can’t necessarily do both things.

2 years ago

Allan Spring

A lot of departments within a business are segmented more and more these days. This is a good example, a CRM and a CEM have very different tasks even if the their end goal of maintaining happy customers is the same. I hired a CEM a few months ago and she has been a great asset to us, I encourage everyone to split these roles and hire accordingly.

2 years ago

Warren Redmond

I’ve recently been hired as a CRM and yes, my duties are very different to a CEM. Analytics are not my strong point, something a CEM works very heavily with. These 2 positions are highly specialized and require 2 separate people at least. We do work together a lot, though. I can work with customers more efficiently if I understand them better, something the CEM is there for.

1 year ago

Shoeb Ahmed

Super clarification on the difference between CRM and CEM.

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