CX vs. CEM: Defining the Difference

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Remember in high school geometry when you learned that a square is always a rectangle, but a rectangle isn’t always a square? Understanding the difference between Customer Experience (CX) and Customer Engagement Management (CEM) is a little like that. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In the not-so-distant past, customers played a much smaller role in business. In terms of movie casting, they were the supporting best friend to the brand’s central character. But times changed and so did dynamics. Today’s customer is no longer satisfied with playing such a bit role, instead preferring to take the lead in strategy and overall direction in exchange for their business and loyalty.

The line between CX and CEM can, for obvious reasons, be a little blurry at times. Decidedly more so as brands intermittently exchange terminology based on their understanding and use of the phrases. However, there remain a few key differences between these two customer-focused concepts, the understanding of which can determine how you shape your strategy now and in the future.

Strategy vs. Goal

The easiest and most obvious place to start is by just defining the terms. While customer experience can be summed up as “the perception the customer has of your brand,” CEM is a more robust concept. It is the totality of your brand’s strategic engagement throughout the entire customer journey. What does that mean in simple terms? Every communication, touchpoint, and transaction combine to equal your engagement. And the strategy that you put in place to cohesively interact with your customer can be the difference between winning and losing.

Connecting the Dots

The crux of any successful CEM strategy is the thread of connection tying together every interaction. While CX can exemplify anything from a moment to a lifetime with a brand, CEM specifically focuses on the holistic picture of a customer’s engagement with you—from winning over to win-back, it’s the journey that defines the strategy.

Return on (Customer) Investment

Investing in either CX or CEM can offer your brand significant ROI. Understanding the depth and breadth of return though is dependent upon your brands goals and overall business strategy. While CX offers the promise of improved brand awareness and overall customer perception (see above), CEM can bring about significant improvements in both revenue generation and—the more difficult to measure—customer loyalty.

At the core of it all though remains the most critical piece of any business puzzle—the customer. Ready to see what CEM has to offer? Let’s go.