Customer Experience Management (CEM)

Carriers to Pump More Cash Into CEM

The majority of communications service providers (CSPs) expect to increase their investments in customer experience management (CEM) programs during 2013, according to a survey conducted by Heavy Reading , part of the Light Reading group.

According to the results, 24 percent of the survey's CSP respondents expect a "significant increase" in CEM-related budget in 2013 compared with this year, while a further 43 percent expect a "slight increase." Only 3 percent expected their CEM spending to drop next year.

The results are based on responses from 118 respondents from 75 service providers (of all sizes and types) in 34 countries. The survey, commissioned by CEM systems and services provider Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), was conducted by Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Caroline Chappell. (See AlcaLu Gets Motivated About CEM and Euronews: AlcaLu Offers Managed CEM.)

The key factor driving increased CEM-related spending is the expectation that it will help boost customer numbers and profitability. Other factors include an improved brand value, competitive differentiation and reduced operational costs.

Greg Owens, senior marketing director of Customer Experience Solutions (CXS) at AlcaLu, believes the recognition that CSPs can differentiate themselves by improving their customers' experience is a significant shift in a communications services market that is increasingly homogenized. He also believes that CSPs are regarding CEM in a different light these days and now understand that this is about a corporate culture of which technology is just a part and isn't something that can simply be ordered from a supplier. "Decision-makers are starting to see the benefit of CEM and recognize that this is not a point solution," says Owens.

Heavy Reading's Chappell agrees that there's a shift in the perceived role of CEM. "This research sweeps away the skepticism that has surrounded CEM. Operators globally recognize that CEM is critical to differentiating themselves in markets where they are finding it increasingly difficult to compete on networks and services," says the analyst, who is engaging in qualitative discussions with some of the survey's respondents. "[Operators] are investing in CEM to gain the 'win wins' of improved brand recognition and reduced costs, such as reducing the cost of churn. And far from being 'only' a CRM [customer relationship management] play, CEM is a holistic initiative that advanced, early adopter operators are driving across all parts of the business, often starting with network operational improvements and critically joining these up with customer-facing activities, such as customer care," she adds.

But that doesn't mean it's easy to get a CEM strategy up and running at CSPs. The survey's respondents noted that the main barrier to implementing a CEM strategy is the "difficulty in securing cross-organizational cooperation." That is linked to another main barrier to implementation, namely "poor understanding of the benefits of improving CEM."

There's also a perception at CSPs that implementing a CEM strategy would be costly, as "cost of available CEM solutions" was also cited as a barrier, along with "no business case."

For more on CEM, see:

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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