Conversation with Bill Moore and Dennis Gershowitz: Building a Customer Experience Management (CEM) Strategy

Not too long ago I published a blog post entitled, “Let’s Take Back “Customer Experience” from the Marketing Team!” My point was that the term “customer experience” seems to have been hijacked at some point by marketers who use it as a code term for upsell/cross-sell on company websites and online stores. Similarly, I’ve seen “customer experience management,” or CEM, used by vendors selling everything from satisfaction surveys to call recording to multi-channel management. But what is missing is usually the end-to-end view of the customer experience, what elements of the experience drive loyalty, and how to identify those elements so they can be repeated with all similar customers.

To delve into this topic, I was able to schedule time to interview experts on CEM, Bill Moore, the director of CEM training and Dennis Gershowitz, President and Founder of DG Associates, a longtime AFSMI and TSIA partner. Bill is the director of the CRMI, the Customer Relationship Management Institute, where his duties include designing and delivering employee customer relationship training and recognition/reward programs. Bill has a successful background as a service professional with over 30 years of experience working with Honeywell, Data General, Wang Laboratories, EMC, and Kronos Incorporated.

Dennis is a thought leader in service delivery excellence and has led several world-class service delivery organizations, with more than 30 years of service and support experience. As the executive vice president of worldwide support at Alfa Wassermann he led the company to their first globally certified NorthFace ScoreBoard Award for Outstanding Customer Service Excellence. Dennis has a successful background as a service executive with over 30+ years of experience with Coulter Electronics, Alfa Wasermann, Olympus America Endoscopy and Medical Laboratory Automation. Bill and Dennis will be leading a professional development workshop at our upcoming TSW Conference in Las Vegas on Monday, October 18, “Best Practices for Building a Customer Experience Management (CEM) Strategy to Strengthen and Grow Your Customer Base.”

John Ragsdale: Bill, it is a pleasure to speak with you! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me!

Bill Moore and Dennis Gershowitz: Thank you for the opportunity to introduce ourselves and our workshop to your membership.

John: Let’s start with the term CEM: customer experience management. Could you talk about what CEM means to you, and what a CEM strategy entails for a technology support organization?

Dennis: Great starting point, and this comes with various definitions. CEM is a business strategy for acquiring – retaining – upgrading and winning back customers. All technology support organizations must commit to a CEM Playbook Strategy, just as they commit to a marketing – sales – manufacturing strategy. This strategy must be based on the principle that CEM is not a project, but, a lifetime journey whose objective is to continuously exceed the customer expectations to achieve the ultimate goal-LOYALTY. By accepting this principle, an organization begins the metamorphosis to what we espouse as the “CEMDNA playbook Strategy”. That is, all processes must be viewed as to improving the customer’s experiences with your product and your services.

As a certified CEMDNA Playbook Strategy Partner, we teach a proprietary 12 step process to achieving this goal. We measure the success by acquisition – retention – growth – win-back ROI analysis. This strategy must be reviewed at least annually and supported with senior management engagement, funding and employee engagement at all levels. Employee engagement, recognition and reward are mandatory components and must include added compensation for achieving customer satisfaction levels. Establishing KPI’s for at least each customer facing group (sales – marketing – service) is crucial to the success of increasing customer loyalty. We measure customer loyalty by repeat purchasing – upgrades – referrals – extensions and several other key factors. Bob Hayes’ popular and informative book “Beyond the Ultimate Question” confirms the 12 step process within his five (5) major Customer Feedback Program (CFP) components. Hayes also presents a solid argument for the ever increasing NPS skepticism regarding only one (1) question surveys are needed to determine customers loyalty all other type surveys are simply a waste of time and money. Those that choose to become disciples of this NEO-theory and dismiss the decades of well tested and proven survey methodologies that traditionally measure to identify key KPI’s of product issues from service issues, risk high customer churn statistics. This approach is like purchasing a boiler with no gauges to indicate degrees of temperature and pressure-fatally dangerous.

John: In the abstract for your workshop, I’m intrigued when you say, “Discover how measuring loyalty enables the company to focus attention on the “right” customers.” One of the downsides I see to companies jumping on the social media bandwagon is that so much attention is being given to the “loud” customers on Twitter and Facebook. But I suspect these are rarely the most valuable customers. How do you identify the “right” customers for an organization to focus on?

Dennis: Great question often asked by our clients. We have developed an account management strategy that allows for segmenting accounts and contacts. We segment the highest revenue producers into Tier I, next Tier II and remaining accounts become Tier III. For Tier I and Tier II, we identify Decision Makers, Recommenders and Influencers for both product and service/support. This account management strategy allows our clients to view their customer satisfaction and loyalty data in the most actionable manner. We address issues in hierarchy Tier I – Decision Maker/Recommender/Influencer then Tier II. This is a significant contributor to increasing revenues and profits.

The CEM practice of the early 70’s consisted of occasionally surveying customers for their level of satisfaction with product and service. Occasionally, some corrective action for the largest revenue producing accounts was accomplished. This approach was more lip service than true commitment to continuously exceeding their expectations. Today, there is a clear understanding of the value of retaining customers and building customer loyalty where loyalty can be measured in repeat sales and upgrades. In summary, our experience reveals that technology support organizations worldwide are investing in CEM Playbook Strategy that is resulting in higher sales and profits. Also, that CEM customer intelligence is providing information that is helping to leverage the large investments in CRM technology made over the past 20+ years.

John: Bill, let’s talk about technology for a minute. One of the things you will cover in your workshop is how business intelligence (BI) drives actionable results. I’ve been very impressed to see companies embracing more sophisticated reporting and analytics for a variety of use cases, including a deeper understanding of how customers consume your services. Could you talk about the role of  analytics and BI in service and support today? What are some creative things you see companies doing?

Bill: I almost don’t know where to begin. This is the most dominant software technology since the advent of CRM technology in beginning of the 1980’s. This significant role of analytics and BI technology encompasses 2 of the 12 steps in our CEM Playbook Strategy. CEM Business Intelligence technology delivers timely information with the ability to author reports or queries to get specific details of customer satisfaction data. The use of online analytical processing (OLAP) analysis with its multiple dimensions, allows you to compare and contrast information against time and other factors to uncover trends.

Dashboard reporting highlights information into easy to understand formats. The objective of BI technology is to show the real value of information whereby many people can use, share and benefit from it.

CEM Analytics in many industries which offer similar products/service is providing the key competitive advantage to identifying distinctive business processes.  Proprietary technologies are rapidly copied, and breakthrough innovations in products or services are increasingly difficult to achieve.

That leaves three things as the basis for competition: (1) efficient and effective execution, (2) smart decision making, and (3) the ability to wring every last drop of value from business processes – all of which can be gained through sophisticated use of analytics.

Key Driver Analytics is used to identify areas of most significant importance to customers in their purchase decision. Text Mining Analytics focuses on large unstructured data and automatically categorizes responses into actionable data. Our ScoreBoard Index (SB Index) Analytics makes use of text mining technologies on survey questions where a below expectations rating was given and captures the customers reason for this below rating. Combining SB Index with the text mining analysis – reveals crucial factors that drive customer loyalty. Further, when combining key driver analysis with SB Index, even more in depth analytics is captured and this results in high impact actionable data. Our Delta Analysis compares customer satisfaction with customer importance on key performance issues. The result of this analysis is the Identification of over investment or competitive weaknesses. These are four (4) of standard analytics we recommend in all CEM Playbook Strategies.

In summary, the use of BI technology and analytics will result in uncovering high impact actionable data that drives revenue and profits.

John: I love the approach of “The 12 basic building blocks of a best-in-class CEM strategy.” Could you talk at a high level about these 12 building blocks, and how they apply to the various types of support organizations, like B2C and B2B?

Bill: The 12 building blocks have been developed over the past 20+ years with several hundred companies over a thousand customer management projects. This method was forged through many experiences of successes and failures. There are 4 major stages Measure – Analyze – Act – Assess. The measurement stage includes building the road map (playbook), development of a account management strategy, encompassing account segmentation/contact segmentation, developing worldwide survey metrics (1-5 rating) survey questions, survey methodologies (telephone-web) and survey types (relationship – transaction – key account). The analyze stage includes Business Intelligence – Analytics – Benchmarking. Our benchmarking encompasses customer research versus direct competition as well as overall industry segments and comparison to the NorthFace ScoreBoard Award recipients. The Act stage includes Corrective Action Plan – Employee Engagement & Retention – Win-back Analysis – Communication to Stakeholders. This stage includes developing corrective action plans, employee customer relationship training/certification, employee rewards program linked to customer satisfaction, strategy to win-back lost customers and the development of a report card for stakeholders that contains summary of CEM survey results. The Assess stage provides executive briefing to management/staff on the results of the program with ROI analysis.

John: Tell me a bit more about the workshop. How is it structured, and how will attendees spend their day?

Bill: The workshop is interactive with real life exercises utilizing PowerPoint and video instruction. All attendees receive the CEM Playbook Strategy White Paper, CEM-DNA Self-Assessment Exam and CEM-DNA Playbook Strategy Deliverables that include sample surveys, reports, briefings and benchmark information. The content has been developed over the past 20+ years through hundreds of company projects and includes best practices for developing and implementing a CEM strategy. The course offers certification as a CEMRPO-Advocate upon successfully completing the web exam. The individuals who have achieved the 80% score rating and who successfully completed the customer facing component with an exam score of 80% are granted marketing rights on use of the logo and tagline.

John: Bill and Dennis, it has been a pleasure speaking with you both. Best of luck in your workshop, “Best Practices for Building a Customer Experience Management (CEM) Strategy to Strengthen and Grow Your Customer Base.”

Bill and Dennis: Thanks for having us! Looking forward to seeing you in Vegas!

If you have any questions or comments for Bill or Dennis, please add a comment or shoot me an email. And as always, thanks for reading!

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2 Comments on “Conversation with Bill Moore and Dennis Gershowitz: Building a Customer Experience Management (CEM) Strategy”

  1. Dbkayanda Says:

    Team –

    Great interview! Lots of good information.

    Am I the only one concerned at the definition provided for customer experience management: “a business strategy for acquiring – retaining – upgrading and winning back customers”?

    It’s absolutely true that CEM, executed properly, is an excellent and profitable business strategy. But by focusing on the outcome for the company, doesn’t this definition implicitly put the company’s interests ahead of the customers’?

    During the excellent TSW keynote delivered by Fred Reichheld, I was struck by the fact that his loyalty case studies FIRST focused on doing the right thing for the customer, and SECONDARILY enjoyed the business benefits that came from doing that. “My business strategy is the golden rule,” I remember he quoted someone as saying.

    With that in mind, I’d propose a definition of CEM like “a strategy designed to deliver confidence, value, satisfaction, and moments of delight in every customer interaction, from consideration through sales, implementation, and support. Applied properly, with a focus on the right customers, CEM delivers not only happy customers, but also long-term sustainable business performance.”

    Great stuff! I just think intent matters — and customers can tell.


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