Colin Shaw

Michael Lowenstein, PhD, CMC, is thought leadership principal for Beyond Philosophy, a U.S.-based international customer management experience consultancy. He's an international conference keynoter and speaker, workshop facilitator and trainer, author and a contributor to two customer loyalty newsletters and portals. He has more than 30 years of management and consulting experience with expertise in customer and employee loyalty research, CEM, loyalty program and product/service development, customer win-back, service and channel quality, customer-driven corporate culture, human resource development, and strategic marketing and planning.

"Marketing Nuggets" will include observations regarding trends, and often study results, representing current, real-world issues of high importance to direct marketers. Those issues include omnichannel communication usage, mobile marketing, content, informal offline and online social communication, consumer behavior, message personalization, internal customer-centric processes and organization, strategic customer life cycle planning, proactive employee contribution, etc.

About a decade ago, my consulting colleague Jill Griffin and I identified seven distinct customer life stages for our 2001 book, "Customer WinBack." These life stages, or components of the life cycle, could be applied to customers of any type, and any size of enterprise. We considered the most serious, and potentially impactful, of these to be customers to be those "at risk." These customers have a proven high probability for defection. A decade later, that perspective hasn't changed. Because the average company loses between 20 percent and 40 percent of its customers a year, isolating drivers of risk and stabilization (i.e. repairing and rebuilding the relationship) are priorities for any enterprise.

We like to think that we make decisions—and that our customers make decisions—for pragmatic reasons. What’s the shortest link between two points? What’s going to deliver the most value? Who’s offering the best prices? Those factors certainly do count in business decisions, but there’s much, much more. Over at Beyond Philosophy, Colin Shaw and his team have spent years researching the roles that emotions play in the buyer/seller relationship, and applying the results to help organizations to create deliberate, emotionally engaging customer experiences that drive value, reduce costs and build competitive advantage.

Many firms consider customer experience management (CEM) the successor of customer relationship management (CRM). One of the most dangerous pitfalls of this assumption is that senior leadership simply rebrands preexisting operational functions as paradigmatic of CEM. Because the 2011 Beyond Philosophy Global Customer Experience Management Survey uncovers that most 'CE' professionals lack any formal background in CEM, it’s time to clearly distinguish CEM from CRM, discuss some of the key drivers of CEM and offer suggestions.

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