2015-487_blog_7-28This article originally appeared on CustomerThink on July 25, 2015.

In the last 18 months we’ve seen more than $500 million in investment in Customer Experience Management (CEM) software companies. The influx to CEM solutions comes from venture capital backing and/or the many acquisitions leading to consolidations across the space. Earlier this week it happened again as Medallia raised another $150 million in venture capital funding. Adding to this frenzy, experts such as Seth Grimes are closely following the space, predicting the emergence of a unicorn, like Clarabridge, and Gartner predicts that by 2016, 89% of companies will compete on customer experience.

So, as a consumer of CEM software, why should you care about these CEM market trends?

Simply put, you need to care because all signs point to a marketplace where every business needs to perfect the customer experience. We know investors follow the dollars and they clearly see long term value in improving customer experience. They realize that more and more businesses are betting on, or even doubling down their efforts around CEM and they want a share of this pie. In turn, this focus should make you wonder: are you doing all the right things to manage your customer experience? Do you have the right tools, processes, and people in place to continually drive a better customer experience? Are you already behind?

To answer this question for your business, dig a little deeper and ask if you have the key elements to a successful CEM program. Impactful CEM initiatives have three key components: executive buy-in, an understanding of the entire customer journey, and the ability to operationalize the data.

First, an executive sponsor for your CEM program may seem like a no brainer but it’s not always a reality. This recent article shows that without executive buy-in, your program may not be successful. Discrepancies and confusion can arise from the fact that nearly every function within an organization owns a piece of the customer experience, creating silos and conflicting changes that result in a degraded customer experience. Because your CEO is uniquely positioned to drive change, his championship of a program is critical.

Next, don’t fall into the “survey” trap. Gain the comprehensive view of your customer journey by pairing your survey results with every other form of customer feedback. The fact is that too many businesses rely only on a series of surveys to monitor the voice of the customer, but the reality is that surveys show such a small fraction of what’s really happening in your customer interactions. For a complete return on your CEM program investment, you need to understand the customer from all angles. You need to know how they learned about your company; how they interact with you before, during, and after their purchase; and the emotion and sentiment felt with every interaction with your company. This includes looking at social, call center, online review sites, and inbound emails in addition to your surveys and analyzing all of this data together to understand not only what your customers think, but why.

Head over to CustomerThink to continue reading.