This month's theme for CMSWire is about taking the focus of Customer Experience Management (CXM) and applying it internally to the enterprise, particularly to Enterprise Information Management (EIM) environments.

Initially that gave me pause for thought, because although I work for a large organization where the focus is very firmly on the customer first, and everything I do, even in an internal role, has to be linked to a positive impact on the customer, I am certainly no expert in CXM. So, while I think I understand the overall focus of CXM, my first step was Wikipedia to check on the definition of the term!

The great wiki endeavor thus tells us that: "Customer experience (CX) is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier."  It then expands on this: "The goal of customer experience management (CXM) is to move customers from satisfied to loyal and then from loyal to advocate." Lastly it states: "One of the key features of successful CXM implementations is their ability to manage multi-channel interactions."

So that seemed like a good place to start. Can we map these concepts to the employee and their use of internal systems? For sure, why not? This sounds like an expansion of the concepts of employee engagement, something HR professionals have been expounding for years.

The question to me is one around degree, and how this maps to the EIM environment. Can we push employee engagement beyond being facilitated by an easy to use and useful intranet by taking CXM principles to our information management tool sets? How can we use our internal, everyday business technology platforms to help turn loyal employees into advocates of our brands? How do we manage "multi-channel interactions" with our employees?

Well these are very good questions Jed, I can hear you all muttering at your computers screens, but what are the answers? When I figure it out I will write a book, you can all buy copies and I can retire early as a wealthy man. In the meanwhile, where can we make a start?


In his most recent CMSWire article, my old boss Toby Ward wrote of the hub of enterprise 2.0 being the social intranet. For HR and Corporate Communications departments that "get it," the highly performing intranet has been the cornerstone of employee engagement for some time.

Intranet consultancies have long had maturity frameworks that ranged from a simple publishing model, with a few empowered people broadcasting information to the rest of the organization; to the most sophisticated personalized portals with push of the contextual information required to complete common tasks (amongst other features).

If we are to take CXM principles to the EIM world -- what role does the intranet play as the center of the digital workplace for a multi-channel strategy? If I was to make some guesses, I would suggest we might have to consider these points:

  • The role of the intranet Web Content Management System in a multi-channel environment -- can your Web CMS handle output in a limited life HTML based micro-site, multiple mobile browsers and an integrated portal?
  • Mobile -- how do you replicate a highly usable intranet experience on small screens, or indeed these days on the not so small screens, but somewhat constrained browser environments of iOS and Android tablets? Also, do you push info to Apps? And considering the overall "experience" element, how do you ensure that "always on" does not equate to ruining that fragile work-life balance?
  • Analytics -- do you have good analytics on your intranet now? Are you ready to push that to the next level with your social intranet, to do sentiment analysis etc. with your employees?

I have focused on unstructured content so far, but the intranet is also your presentation layer for internal big data and business intelligence, for decision support, and if you remember the now dated acronym, Management Information Systems.

By being a highly valuable, and hopefully highly usable central hub, the intranet is what the military call a "force multiplier":  its impact is greater than the sum of its parts.

If we are to truly push CXM principles into the EIM space, then it can only become more important as the central aggregation point, with the central corporate gateway and specialized portals providing easy access to collaboration tools, documents and records management systems, data warehouses and specific and specialized line of business applications.

However, there is one other element of the EIM environment that is often surfaced via the intranet that has great potential for internal CXM:

Enterprise Search

If we are to make already loyal employees into true brand advocates, who bore the hell out of their friends and family by constantly telling them how great their work place is, then we need to provide them with the tools required to find useful information, that they can work with to make insightful discoveries and add value to the organization.

I believe it is not very controversial to say that when I used to work with Toby as a consultant, a common theme at many (if not all) clients was "search sucks."  Since leaving Prescient Digital Media, I have worked for one of the biggest names in Canadian retail, one of the world's largest professional services organizations, and one of North America's largest financial institutions -- and the one thing these 3 diverse organizations have in common is...yep, you guessed it -- search sucks!

Search sucks for many varied and usually very good reasons:

  • The organization does not have high level corporate (enterprise wide) ownership of information management;
  • it does not tag information with metadata;
  • it has no search team other than an FTE Sys Admin in IT; and
  • no one sees the value of being able to widely search across all potential repositories and applications.

Worse still, probably the biggest disincentive is the fact that sorting out all of the issues above is not going to be easy, and unless someone can create a narrative describing the incredible business value, and potential return on investment, the business, particularly in the current economic environment, will continue to invest in customer facing point solutions.

To me the ability to search for people in the staff directory, pages on the intranet, comments in the collaboration system, documents in the EDRMS, items that are on legal hold, customer data from the CRM, presentations from marketing and pre-crunched numbers from the BI system at the same time within a single interface would be a serious improvement to most employee's experience (with all the standard caveats about security, trimming, etc).

Is it Worth it ?

I have taken a short look at two areas where we might want to push the CXM theory into our internal information management practice. Other CMSWire authors will have much more interesting and useful insights during March I am sure, but whether you agree with my comments above might be very highly contextual depending on the size of your organization and what industry you're in. While employee engagement is probably quite important to all organizations in one way or another, the amount of effort you put into it, and the amount you can spend on it will of course differ considerably.

Whether you agree or disagree, please dive into the comments and let us know what your thoughts are on this subject.

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