The ambiguity of CEM, Digital and Big Data

Khaled Mkahal, VP of CEM & Digital Practice, PCCI Group

Without any doubt the world has gone the digital direction becoming more focused on the Customer experience while trying to map customer interactions and generating useful information that will increase satisfaction, leading to continuous business growth. In-line with this trend, you will notice that people are more involved in exploring and researching what I like to call the ‘three words’- Big data, Digital and Customer Experience Management (CEM), especially if they are  working in service oriented sectors like Telecom, Banking and Travel and Tourism.

Keeping in mind the size and amount of information being exchanged daily brings up an important question – “Is there any clear common understanding that defines the Three Words? And can they really be separated?”

Unfortunately, there is none at the moment as this area is considered as a growing non-mature space. Definitions and concepts keeping evolving with new approaches, strategies and best practices.  We will try to address these areas from our understanding hoping it will help better understand and hence embrace these new trends.

Starting with the Customer Experience (CX): It is the perceived experience by a customer to a certain product or service , the experience can be good, bad or normal. The ability to measure customer experience and manage this information, i.e. analyze it, improve it and reuse it to derive new services and products personalized to the customer is what we call Customer Experience Management. It is important to understand that the experience is holistic and cannot be segregated and hence the challenge in capturing it. In the CEM world this is referred to as measuring customer experience throughout the customer life cycle and against all touch points.

Let me give you an example. The experience of a customer who wants to stay in a particular hotel starts from the time he visits the hotel’s website to book a room until he checks out of the hotel. This includes his experience at the time of check in,  while using the facilities of the hotel and finally when he makes the final payment. The question that now arises is how to measure his experience and ensure that the customer would not only return to the same hotel but also share his experience and recommend the hotel to his friends and colleagues which in turn would translate to more business for the hotel.

Digital: To explain this simply, digital  is the form of the data that customers generates during their interactions with different touch points. It is also denotes the the channels that the customer has used to transfer this data. It is definitely advantageous to have  data captured in digital form as it helps improve the process of  collecting the data thus increasing the ability to process it further.

If we go back to our hotel example, we can consider the hotel website that the customer used to book his room as the digital channel and the information that he was required to fill and the online payment he made are in the form of digital data.

Big Data: This is the data that is generated by all customer transactions for each and every product/service they have experienced.

Let’s go back to the hotel example to understand this a little more. Here  “big data” is the data generated by the customer (his profile, the country he is travelling from, number of days of stay, the room type, the means of payment, utilities access in the hotel like pool, gym, restaurants, feedback, complaints if any, etc.).  It is of course easy to collect this type of data from one customer but imagine the size of the same data when collected for all the customers of the hotel over a long period of time. This cumulative data of all customers is what we call ‘big data’. In fact in reality, customers can use multiple services at the same time generating more data.

It is important to be able to define and distinguish the different meanings of the ‘three words’ distinctly and although we believe they all come together in one gigantic process while working back to back as one of them is the input (Big Data), the second is the form and channel of the data (Digital) and the final one (CEM) is the engine and Processes which when applied to this data helps improve both customer satisfaction and business growth.

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