Got CXM? Why customer experience management isn’t just a nice-to-have for strategic account management

By Raj Parekh, Partner, CuebridgeCX

According to Gartner, it’s the “new competitive battlefield.” Per Forrester, 84 percent of firms aspire to be leaders. In strategic account management, companies have to address the never-ending question of how to differentiate themselves and gain market share. And yet most SAM organizations — large and small — haven’t tapped this potentially huge source of competitive differentiation.

I’m talking about customer experience management (CXM), which I would argue may be the single most important investment a company can make in today’s cut-throat business climate. It is absolutely essential to success today.

Leading industry publications and consulting companies have conducted significant research into the growing trend and have found that:

CXM vs. CRM: Do you need both? 

Yes! (And here’s why.)

The reasons lie in how these systems are built and the purposes they are built to fulfill. CRM systems are focused on opportunity management, while CXM systems are focused on managing the ongoing delivery of value and the assessment of outcome attainment. CRM tools are not designed to manage triggered work streams or focus on sustaining and protecting ongoing revenue and client relationships – all activities that are fundamental to the successful implementation of a strategic accounts approach. This is where CXM shines.

First, a definition of terms:

CRM CRM software keeps sales processes organized and aligned with best practices up to the point that a deal is closed.

Value Selling A sales approach that focuses on benefiting the customer throughout the life cycle of your relationship. Account managers are focused on taking a consultative approach to selling, such that customer decisions are based on the overall value potential of the supplier’s products and services.

Customer Success Once a deal has closed, customer success continues the relationship by helping to deliver on the promises made during the sales process. Customer success is focused on retention, loyalty and advocacy.

Add them all together, and you get customer experience management. Bottom line: You need both CRM and CXM for your business to succeed.

The basics: What CXM actually is

Does introducing CXM mean implementing a completely separate system from my existing CRM? In a word: No! Customer experience management is complementary to your CRM. When done right, CXM helps optimize your overall technology investment by laying customer experience functionality on top of your existing CRM. How? By bringing the power of digital transformation to your customer relationship through enabling your strategic account managers to provide superior insights and experience to their customers at every stage in their journey with your company’s products and services. 

The Customer Life Cycle: From Awareness to Advocacy

Advantages and key design elements of CXM system

With the introduction of digital natives among client organizations, CXM has emerged as the next frontier for account teams. For companies to survive and thrive, cultivating and focusing on growing existing customer relationships has become integral to strategic planning and operational execution.

The implementation of CXM is the ultimate solution.

Traditional CRMNext-Gen CXM
Unified System
Key accounts data and essential intelligence is spread across the organization (financials in external systems, plans in PowerPoint, Excel and Contacts & Opportunities in CRM, Google search, et al.)Under one Unified application, CXM combines data silos and digitizes functions by leveraging CRM, social media, and financial and contract data to deliver a superior client experience across their life cycle with your company.
Insights to Action
No standardized way for management to trigger best practices and required field actions in real time
CXM system triggers workflows on real-time basis for account teams to take time-critical action to service clients effectively, stay ahead of the competition and be consultative
Best Practices at Scale
Best practices are often not standardized across the organization. Disparate approaches rule the roost.
CXM systems are designed to coach users and allow critical thinking at the point of client engagement. It provides periodic updates and expert guidance to users for effectively performing their day-to-day tasks 
Enterprise Memory
Account intelligence is tacit and ad hoc. Risk of data loss due to employee attrition negatively impacts future growth.CXM system maintains enterprise memory by combining data like Client 360, activities, engagements, etc.
Employee (User) Experience
CRM adoption among employees/users is challenging. Account teams often wonder, “What’s in it for me?” While CRM provides visibility to leadership, it struggles to provide value for the actual users, i.e., the account managers.Successful CXM systems are designed to add value, simplify day-to-day task management, reduce tedious data entry and create essential utility for the account teams. For leadership, they provide visibility into account team activities and productivity.
Benchmark outcomes achieved by successful  implementation of CXM
CXM: Meet Your Customers’ Needs

Your customers deserve the best service. By combining CRM with CXM, your business will increase revenue, garner and retain new customers, increase credibility with existing customers and create lasting trust with your long-term relationships.

CuebridgeCX LLC, specializes in key account management and client engagement technology. CuebridgeCX offers out-of-the-box customer experience management (CXM) solutions and value-based go-to-market services.

Customer success 2.0? Sounds a lot like SAM.

By Bernard Quancard

President & CEO


I recently came across an article in the January 2018 McKinsey Quarterly titled “Introducing Customer Success 2.0: The New Growth Engine.” I am pleased to say that McKinsey & Co.’s view of managing customers differently completely aligns with SAMA’s view of strategic account management. Welcome aboard!

McKinsey reports that companies — especially in the software industry — are increasingly turning to so-called customer success managers (CSMs) to be their companies’ most powerful assets in coordinating internal resources to make their customers successful and fuel organic growth.

The CSM role is not new. As the McKinsey article details, software companies established the function in the mid-2000s to take a more proactive approach to customer retention as they moved to a more subscription-based business model. What IS new, according to McKinsey, is that many high-tech companies are now looking to their CSMs not only to reduce customer churn but also to be a catalyst for growth.

“By artfully drawing on a CSM’s intimate customer knowledge,” the piece states, “companies can surface opportunities to provide relevant solutions and expand customer value.”

This sounds an awful lot like the animating principle of strategic account management.

The similarities don’t stop here. McKinsey proposes five critical elements of “customer success 2.0,” which you can see in this chart below:

These are all critical components of SAMA’s organizational enablers, which our work with hundreds of the world’s most sophisticated SAM companies identifies as the most critical components of a successful SAM initiative. Again, I am happy to see SAMA’s work validated by the business management experts at McKinsey.

Although SAMA has focused the bulk of its efforts on perfecting a process for co-creating value with a company’s most strategic customers, we also push the idea of imbuing the entire organization with the principals of customer-centricity. One way of doing this is by leveraging the SAM mindset by taking best practices that originate there and migrating them to customers outside the SAM program.

For just one example of this, read my interview with former Zurich Insurance Global Corporate CEO Thomas Hurlimann, under whose watch Zurich built a program to leverage best practices developed inside the SAM program. Zurich created a new segment, just below strategic accounts, of large and/or important accounts and assigned a “part-time SAM” to service them. These part-timers came from the ranks of Zurich’s absolute best product people, who volunteered to service one or two accounts in this segment in addition to their day jobs.

The initiative, Hurlimann told me, has been a huge success — in part because it injects the philosophy of customer-centricity into the larger organization. “In their day jobs doing a product job, these people realize, ‘Wow, I actually need to change the way I work and always have the customer in mind,” Hurlimann said. “When they play the SAM role, they realize how important it is to work as a team.”

McKinsey devotes a great deal of ink to both the importance and difficulty of identifying the right talent to fill the role of customer success manager. They talk about knowledge of advanced analytics and digital tools, but, more importantly, they identify the criticality of having the ability to derive, from deep strategic customer understanding, the critical insights that will co-create value for both parties.

Would you care to guess which trait SAMA has identified — through its years of benchmarking with the most advanced SAM companies in the world — as the most strongly correlated with SAM success? It’s strategic thinking. As SAMA’s Senior Knowledge Content Developer wrote in last year’s “Customer Value Co-Creation: Powering the Future through Strategic Relationship Management”:

“Both an attribute and a skill, strategic thinking is essential in account planning and many other SAM activities in order to connect the dots between knowledge of the customer and knowledge of one’s own company. Strategic thinking may be the most important asset to a SAM, though one of the least understood.”

Is McKinsey passing off as new thought leadership wisdom that’s been known to the SAMA community for the past 20 years? Is your company leveraging learning developed in the SAM initiative and deploying it across your entire organization? I would love to hear your thoughts, either in the comments or in SAMA’s LinkedIn group.