Return on Relationship


CXM: The X-Factor in Return on Relationship

Are companies finally starting to get the message about Return on Relationship, ROR (#RonR)? I have been using and evangelizing the term since early 2009, and the acronym, RonR (as a hashtag #RonR), is floating around a lot these days and it seems to exemplify the heart of the issue–paying closer attention to customers.

You’ve undoubtedly heard of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, but now there’s buzz going around about CXM, or Customer Experience Management. To me, CXM is a natural offshoot of CRM, not because it’s a replacement of it, but because it’s the next logical step in today’s world–optimizing the customer experience. But what’s the difference between the two?

A recent article in gives each term a pretty clear definition:

CRM: Customer Relationship Management is a business strategy directed to understand, anticipate and respond to the needs of an enterprise’s current and potential customers in order to grow the relationship value.

CXM: Customer Experience Management includes both the individual experience in a single transaction as well as the sum of all experiences across all touch points and channels between a customer and a supplier over the duration of their relationship. ”

The change in terminology reflects a very important factor: the control shift from seller to buyer that has been precipitated by social media. CRM software is designed to collect data about customers, and to automate systems for getting in front of them and communicating with them. CXM takes the concept even further. It’s really a more customer-centric approach to nurturing relationships by finding ways to delight buyers at every touch point.

This is a necessary step, I believe. For too long, CRM adopters have not really used the tools as much for customer relationship nurturing as for exercising control over customer-facing staff and keeping tabs on sales performance. While those things are essential to track, they don’t address the needs and desires of customers and the kind of service they expect to receive. In order to provide the level of service that truly sets us apart, we need to start delivering the kind of data that helps us provide the right things at the right time to enhance customer interactions and make it easier for them (not just easier for us) at every step in the relationship.

We’ve always known that it’s six to seven times more costly to acquire new customers than to keep the ones you already have–yet we’ve consistently paid more attention to new sales numbers than to customer retention. The focus of CXM is to finally focus more on the relationship.

I’m glad that companies are finally starting to recognize that they need to pay more attention to this. There’s even a new C-Suite position of CCO (Chief Customer Officer) charged with handling the customer experience from top to bottom.

My advice, however, is make sure that your new CCO has close ties with  your CIO and CMO. The kind of communication required to deliver the ultimate customer experience needs to run across and run through all channels. To be successful CXM really needs to be an enterprise-wide cultural shift.

My hope is that as CXM matures and more vendors begin to offer these types of solutions, companies take a holistic approach to implementation. Building better customer relationships should be everyone’s primary objective, from sales, to marketing, to customer service–even IT departments.  If that’s the true objective, then CXM truly has a chance to be the X-factor in achieving Return on Relationship.

Other articles and posts on ROR:

Return on Relationship: The New Measure of Success 

Build Relationships, Not Billboards

Brands Neet to Focus on ROR: Return on Relationship

ROR: Return on Relationship in Education 

Authenticity increases ROR, Return on Relationship

12 Most Important Ways to Build Relationships and get ROR

Other videos on ROR:


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