All hail the newest addition to our giant bag of acronyms: CXM. All hail the man leading the CXM pack at Forrester: Stephen Powers! 

Along with a handful of other analysts, Powers kicked out a report for Forrester titled: Harnessing The Convergence of Customer Experience Management Solutions. It covers the basics of the growing CXM trend and offers tips on how to make it most useful, by clearly defining the role of content. 

Defining Customer Experience Management 

Let's kick things off with a definition. An easy way to think of a CXM solution is like a gourmet sandwich: The layering of several individual -- and often complex -- ingredients make up the finished product. In today's kitchen, the CXM sandwich satiates the craving for optimizing customer experiences by layering several applications and systems across customer touchpoints.

Forrester has a less fun (but probably more useful) definition that goes like this:

A solution that enables the management and delivery of dynamic, targeted, consistent content,
offers, products, and interactions across digitally enabled consumer touchpoints.

Trouble in Paradise 

And while that sounds delicious and all, the CXM world is not without its hurdles. Today, most professionals face the issue of siloed products. Forrester uses campaign creation as an example, noting that most marketers have to go to one system for campaign tracking, another for content creation, another for commerce, another for testing and optimization, and another to measure outcomes.

In our sandwich scenario, imagine taking out the slice of cheese and eating it whole. Now move on to the tomato. And then the pickle. 

Lame. 

"Organizations can’t sustain these manually intensive processes in the face of growing channel complexity," says team Forrester. "And perhaps more importantly, they risk missing important opportunities to create value through the advanced analytics and segmentation of online consumers that integrated solutions afford. Time-to-market is already too long, and the number of staff required to support these experiences simply won’t scale. Companies will need better solutions in order to properly create, deliver, and measure customer experiences."

From the Ashes...

Vendors ain't dummies, and so we're beginning to see players from previously separate categories converge solutions in order to create a category with overlapping capabilities. Presently these hybrid solutions are being built inside several different houses. Among them:

  • Web Content Management
    Functionality such as content targeting, social, and mobile is becoming more common is WCM vendors like SDL and Adoble. But Forrester notes that connectors which allow integration with complementary technologies such as analytics, testing and optimization, CRM, and third-party social networks, are becoming increasingly important. 
  • Commerce Platform Solutions 
    IBM acquired campaign management solution Unica and a recommendations engine with Coremetrics. ATG, now owned by Oracle, acquired and continues to leverage a personalization engine as it adds improved content and campaign tools. Smaller players,  such as hybris, Fry/Micros Retail, Intershop/GSI, and MarketLive are also  focused on CXM capabilities.
  • Search Solutions 
    Algorithm-based technologies are becoming increasingly more popular, as they dynamically provide customers the content and/or products they need. 
  • Recommendation Engines: 
    Personalization and automation algorithms are frequently used to streamline the work required to target customers with relevant offers, products, content, and search results.
  • Customer Service Interaction Management Solutions 
    Standardizing the problem resolution process and customer service experience across a variety of channels like voice, email, chat, web self-service, and social is making its way to the top of the list of priorities for many companies. Customer service interaction management solution vendors like eGain, Moxie, RightNow and Parature now offer a central well of customer data and history, agent and web selfservice, knowledge management capabilities, workflow, and customer feedback management capabilities.

How to Ride the Wave

In response to the amount of customer demand and mountains of data, these solutions are coming and they're coming fast. In the madness of it all, Forrester offers some tips on how to stay organized and integrate smoothly: 

  • Understand how disparate solutions need to work together: Components of a complete CXM solution often lack effective business-user optimized management tools and integrations with other CXM technologies. Be careful to address these gaps and understand how usable and scalable proposed CXM solutions are from an operational standpoint.
  • Talk to your partners and peers frequently: You certainly can't harmonize processes alone, so be sure to work with your peers — such as enterprise architects, business process professionals, and eBusiness and strategy professionals — to prioritize integrations and develop technology road maps.
  • Execute your vision in baby steps: As it stands, CXM capabilities are more of a vision than a reality so keep calm and carry on. The train hasn't left the station yet. Understand a vendor’s long-term vision, but select based on their commitment to solve short-term, channel-specific, and more tactical execution needs.

That last point here specifically aims to deter you from what we unfortunately see most often: vendors that promise a Swiss Army Knife, big-bang type solution. While suites of solutions can be sweet, when it comes the CXM the fact of the matter is you probably already own several key components.

Focus on a vendor that will help you leverage those instead of buying into the all-or-nothing mindset. It just might save you some time and loads upon loads of cash. 

And speaking of cash, if you're in the mood to drop some, you can check out Forrester's full report