CRM + CEM = Real-time CRM

By: Lisa Sigler

October 9, 2014

CEM Programs
CEM Solutions

Real-time CRM is the delightful offspring when organizations marry their CRM and CEM best practices. Why should companies take these two disciplines’ relationship to the next level? 


CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems provide a place to store customer contact information, purchase history, and service tickets, as well as information about leads. Ideally, this information is automatically updated, specific, and easy to access. It contains all of the information that defines the customer relationship – from your point of view.

CEM (Customer Experience Management), on the other hand, provides analysis on the customers’ interactions with you from their perspective. It provides details about motivation, perception, and emotion that tell you how your customers feel about you and your brand.

With real-time CRM, though, the two become one to provide an immediate, comprehensive view of the customer. Let’s imagine a customer calls in with a complaint. You pull up her ID number in your CRM system and you can find out her zip code, her age bracket, and what she bought from you last month. This is a great start to providing context for your conversation with the customer, but it doesn’t give you all the information you need in order to make a smart decision as you engage with her in real-time.

Add the Customer Experience data, however, and the picture is filled in with details. You can find out about her specific experience and her feelings about you, your product, or your service. You can find out if she’s tweeted about this issue, if she is a churn risk, or what kinds of products she prefers (whether she bought them from you or from your competitor). In short, you are empowered to make decisions in the moment about the best way to handle this particular caller. Will a small refund do the trick? An apology? A coupon? Even better, do you have the opportunity to surprise and delight by reaching out proactively, not to sell something but just to help?

Building relationships with customers promotes loyalty and reduces churn – but in our increasingly omni-channel economy, it is impossible to track every time customers interact with your brand. You might know if they are browsing on your site for information, but what about window shopping in your store, looking at Yelp reviews, or asking their friends about you (on Twitter or in real life)? You don’t know every experience they’ve had before they reach out to you directly, but you can use real-time CRM technology to understand customers when they are actively engaged in an interaction with you.  And you not only understand the customer – you have a wealth of information about their issues at your fingertip. You can know, in real-time, if other customers like her calling about the same problem. You can go from, “Oh, I had no idea,” to, “It seems you aren’t the only one with this problem – here’s what I can do to help.”

With real-time CRM, you can combine your knowledge of the customer (such as loyalty program history and purchase information) with the customer’s view of your brand (through, the customer’s actual responses to surveys, his or her comments in social forums, and notes from previous support calls) as well as the details from the current interaction. The customer comes out of the shadows and is no longer just a member of a group (“taxi drivers,” “Virginians,” “college students”). She is now an individual with specific preferences, desires, and history with your company. This empowers your sales, services, and support teams to take actions that make a difference.

Industry research shows that it is seven times more expensive to find a new customer than to nurture and retain existing customers.1 Real-time CRM gives you information that allows you to tailor each interaction with individual customers in order to inspire their loyalty and satisfaction.

Keys to delivering a successful real-time CRM program include the following:

1.  Combining customer data from CRM with customer feedback data from all other channels
2.  Analyzing the feedback – including the stuff that’s not easy to understand, like written text or call recordings
3.  Pushing the resulting insights out to the people who can do something about it

Want to know more about real-time CRM? Clarabridge CMO Susan Ganeshan shared some of her thoughts about the subject in the Customer Experience Report article “Implementing Real Time CRM—Without The Creepiness!”  To learn how Clarabridge integrates with leading CRM systems to provide the comprehensive CEM component of a real-time CRM solution, contact us.


Lisa Sigler is Sr. Manager of Content Marketing at Clarabridge. For over 16 years, Lisa has used her writing and editorial skills to bring the value and benefits of technology to life. In her current role, she works to demonstrate Clarabridge’s position as thought leader and trailblazer in the Customer Experience Management market. Lisa holds a B.A. of English from Kent State University. Read more from Lisa on Twitter @siglerLis.