CRM vs CX: Do they work together?

6 Jan 2020

In today’s world of flashy product launches and everyone flocking to “the next big thing”, it can be a challenge to keep your existing customers as, well, customers. That’s why a lot is being written about the best way to manage the customer experience (often shortened to CX) and the customer relationship (CRM).

Again, you’ll see a lot of products and process gurus offering easy fixes and quick wins that will improve your CX and streamline your CRM. (This is another blog from me that is a bit heavy on acronyms…sorry.)

But in reality, there are no “one size fits all” solutions and certainly no magic overnight remedy that will suddenly turn all of your existing customers into full on brand advocates.

In this blog, I’d like to talk about what it really means to invest in CX. And how I see that investment being reflected and utilised with a CRM solution. In my mind, it isn’t a “vs” / “either or” question – it’s how you combine the two to improve your customers’ journey with you…and their loyalty.

But first, let’s start with some proper definitions.

What are CRM and CX?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and is most often used to refer to a type of software (or system) that allows you to track the various aspects of your customer journey. Most feature tools to help you with the lead nurturing / sales management part of the journey…really good ones (cough cough OpenCRM cough) will go beyond that, into the account management, customer service, and recurring business elements.

CX refers to customer experience and is used to describe the various ways your customers actually engage with your business. This could be your phone systems, email procedures, ticket management, LiveChat responses, social media presence…it really does cover everything.

I like to think of the two like this:

CX is what your customer sees, CRM is how your team responds. They aren’t rivals. They’re just ways of talking about the two sides of your business: the storefront and the factory.

Investing in CX

If you want to keep your existing customers as customers, they need to be happy with your product and your service.

In order to do that, you need to know what they think about you right now, which areas they think you could improve, and what they’re going to want from you in the future.

Knowing this comes down to communication…and that is right at the heart of good CX. Investing in customer experience starts with finding out where your customers are going when they want to speak with your team.

Are they calling you? Emailing? Wandering around your website? Trying to log on to your customer portal? Sending you messages on social media?

Once you identify this, you can put some resource behind it to see how it improves things.

Let me give you a personal example from here at OpenCRM.

We were finding that a lot of our customers were calling or emailing us while they were using their CRM solution. They were trying to describe where they were in the system and asking what they should do next. The CX here was one of looking for assistance while actually using the product.

So we embedded a LiveChat tool within the system itself. Now our customers can ask for help from the screen that they need help with…it wasn’t rocket science, we just needed to step back and think about what our customers were experiencing.

Within a few weeks of launch, we noticed that our call and email numbers were going down. The Same number of tickets…they were just starting to come via LiveChat. And we were closing them faster!

We asked our customers to rate these chats and also how they found them more generally. The response was overwhelmingly positive. People liked to be able to ask a quick question, get a response, and move on with their day.

Building a CRM Strategy

When it comes to investing in CX, the argument is pretty clear: improve what your customers see and they will be happier. The argument for improving CRM – the way you manage the relationship- is (in my mind) equally clear: improve how your team engage with your customers and they’ll be more productive (and better informed).

Improving CX is about listening to and observing your customers. Improving your CRM (and finding the right software to go along with that) is more difficult. In fact, most of our blogs deal with various aspects of this.

When it comes right down to the basics, though, what you need to build a CRM strategy really boils down to four things:

  1. Knowing what you want to achieve
  2. What do you need to achieve it
  3. Measure success along the way
  4. Review and repeat

Let’s explore another real-world example

Going back to our implementation of this new in-system LiveChat.

We knew we wanted to make it easier for our existing customers to connect with the team here – specifically focused on improving our support times as the measurable goal.

This meant we needed an engagement tool that could integrate with OpenCRM and have our development team build this integration. It was vitally important that we could access this information alongside all the other information we have in our systems—otherwise, you’re just guessing what people need from you.

We also needed a strategy behind the launch of it and training for our team.

Once we did all of that, we made sure to include a way for our customers to rate us (and to regularly ask power users what they thought of it). We also compared ticket numbers and times, call numbers, and a few other stats.

After a few weeks, we reviewed these numbers. We saw some issues with coverage and some ways we could improve how we responded. And then we reviewed again after a few weeks.

By making changes to who was responsible for picking up new conversations and tweaking our strategy in a few other places, we made it easier for the team to manage their workload. We also improved where information was shown and how people could access it, streamlining their processes and making them more efficient.

The ticket numbers just kept improving…and we’re not stopping. These numbers and measurements (along with others for other parts of the business) are regularly reviewed so we can make changes as needed.

Combining CRM and CX

I touched on it there in my last example, but I’d like to make it even more clear if I can.

Your customers are interacting with your business, letting you know what they need from you. Your teams are using this information to ensure they are providing your customers with the right information, at the right time, to the right specification. They are also making sure that all those other important boxes are getting ticked…so everyone gets paid, for example.

If the two aren’t meeting in the middle… If your plans for running your business and communicating with your customers aren’t aligned… If changes you make to one aren’t reflected in the other…

It’s just a recipe for disaster.

By considering how your CRM and CX intersect, you can build strategies that improve both your customers’ and your employees’ experience with your business.

Graham Anderson
Graham Anderson
Before I got my start in the tech industry as part of Apple's UK Mac launch team, I was a professional drummer (notice I didn’t say musician). But once I got in, I was hooked and I’ve been involved in the tech industry, primarily software development, for over 20 years. I founded this company and I now have the enviable title of System Architect (as well as Managing Director) here at OpenCRM.