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Customer Experience

Beyond CRM

CX is more than a new name for CRM. It requires interacting with customers in a whole new way.

by Chris Murphy

November 2015

Joe Fuster has been a leader in the tech industry long enough to know when an emerging trend has taken root. As global head of Oracle Customer Experience Cloud (Oracle CX Cloud), Fuster is closest to two such current trends: the rise of customer experience (CX) to displace customer relationship management (CRM), and the rise of “cloud almost always” IT strategies.

The first trend involves the emergence of CX as a business strategy and a software segment that’s a distinct evolution beyond CRM. Traditional CRM suggests that the brand owner can control a relationship with a customer. By comparison, Fuster says, “CX is the notion that customers really manage the relationship with the brands they want to deal with, and those are truly different points of view.”

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The second trend stems from companies putting the cloud at the core of their IT strategies. But according to Fuster, as recently as 2008 and 2009, cloud adoption by enterprise IT organizations still had a large contingent “stamping out ‘the cloud is not for us’ message,” he says. Around 2010, business leaders saw companies getting a competitive advantage from the speed and performance of cloud apps, so they wrestled with how to best incorporate the cloud on a large scale. “In the last three or four years, we’ve just seen an explosion of ‘cloud first, cloud almost always,’” Fuster says.

Here’s more from Fuster on how CX and cloud strategies are changing.

CX means customers are in charge of their relationship with a company

A would-be customer’s journey to buy a product rarely starts with the brand—it starts with a Google search, then perhaps an outreach to a community such as Facebook on the product, and then maybe a review site. Interacting with the brand comes fourth, fifth, or not directly at all.

“If a brand-centric approach is in place, then it’s more CRM, which is an older philosophy. If you recognize the power of the customer or the consumer, then it’s probably more CX,” Fuster says.

CX requires changing how you understand and interact with customers

Managing marketing efforts using a CRM strategy is much different than using a CX approach, Fuster says. A CRM strategy centers on how to best broadcast a message or promotion. For example, if you bought a bird feeder using a coupon from a local hardware store, traditional marketing would keep sending you bird-related promotions.

Data is the key to going forward—better usage of data, better consumption of data.”

With a CX approach to marketing, companies rely on collecting data to know more about each customer—does he regularly drive by that hardware store? Does he browse articles or otherwise show an interest in birds? Is he likely to buy a birdhouse or more birdseed?

“With CX, we make a specific product for a specific segment of the market,” Fuster says. “We identify it. We reach out to that segment and then we wait for that segment to opt in before we do anything else. That’s really the difference in the way CX functions from CRM.”

Executing that CX vision takes applications and infrastructure that can effectively manage company data—from customer information to supply chain—and combines it with third-party data. “Traditional apps weren’t built to hold all that secondary data or third-party data, so the more that you can take third-party data and combine it with your first-party data, the better you can generate insight,” Fuster says.

Oracle brings deep expertise in managing data, and its applications don’t care whether the data comes from an Oracle system or somewhere else. “Data is the key to going forward—better usage of data, better consumption of data,” Fuster says. “It’s all data-based.”

Companies don’t just want a marketing app—they also want a platform to help make their business special

Oracle CX Cloud is a suite of cloud apps for marketing; sales; service; commerce; and configure, price, and quote. Fuster thinks companies not only want that kind of suite, but that they also want a development platform they can use to customize CX for their needs.

Fuster likens software as a service (SaaS) by itself to popular consumer apps, focused on solving a specific problem. “Uber, for example, is a great utility, but it’s not a platform that I use to build my transportation system on,” Fuster says.

Oracle’s platform as a service (PaaS), Oracle Cloud Platform, offers capabilities in integration, data management, and mobile and web development. The combination lets companies keep most of a cloud app standardized, while they use PaaS to customize what’s unique to their business.

“PaaS with SaaS is where you get this agility, where you get an 80 percent use case out of SaaS,” Fuster says. “And then you’ve got PaaS. That’s actually where I can make something pretty
special.”

Photography by Shutterstock