After all these years, I continue to see people write articles about the death of CRM. Lately, I have seen articles emerge about the death of Customer Experience as well. Incidentally, the deaths of Adam Sandler, Sylvester Stallone, and former MMA fighter Ronda Rousey have also been recently reported. All these are hoaxes. In the case of CRM and Cx’s premature obituary, the claims are not as much malicious as they are the result of a serious misunderstanding. It is starting to look a lot like the “bring out your dead” scene in Monty Python’s Holy Grail.

I love telling the story about my first date with my wife of 25 years. I tell people that I wanted this girl to like me so much that I judiciously took care of every detail, down to the time I picked her up, the restaurant, the specific table, and even how close we sat to one another. I skillfully timed my charm with a focus on ensuring that Shelley had everything she needed, that she felt that I was easy to interact with and that the date was so enjoyable and emotionally connecting that it led to something more formal. If at any moment during our date I had asked her, “on a scale from 1 to 10 how likely are you to recommend me to others?” I am not sure there would have been a second date. The evaluation of the experience (even the very questions I ask about it) showed my intentions to pursue something either relational or transactional. Those are two VERY different things.

So I ask you… what is your aim… your goal? Is it Transactional or Relational experiences? Is what you call “experience” just “staging” easier transactions for your customers or setting the stage for a relationship to flourish? Of equal importance… is what you call CRM really managing the process of winning and keeping the right relationships for your business or just tracking sales pipeline? And here is an even more important question: do you see CRM and Cx as wings of the same beautiful bird, with one setting the stage and the other ensuring relationships develop through the right patterns of growth? Is one effort (Cx) evaluating where things are not functional, accessible, and emotionally engaging and the other (CRM) carefully managing the phases of relationship development, consolidation, maturity, or deterioration? If Cx and CRM are not complementary and collaborative efforts, it becomes difficult (sometimes impossible) to correct the experiences that lead to relationship deterioration and the relationships that need experience improvement.

Unfortunately, these arguments about the death of either effort or term only confuse people. I myself have, on occasion, criticized the campaign to replace the term CRM for the term Cx. I get that the term CRM has become too closely associated with technology and that we need to redirect our focus to best practices. Totally agree. However, the term “experience” cannot survive independently from the goal of the experience, which is winning and keeping customer relationships. So, hiding the term “relationship” or subordinating to Cx concepts and methodologies has the adverse effect of leaving Cx without a master (and yes Cx serves the goal of relationship building). Cx becomes a coloring book of how customers do things easier, but without a map of how their most fundamental relationship needs are met and how the fulfillment of those needs leads to consolidation and loyalty (yup, loyalty).

What is the solution? Frankly, the answer is simply awareness. Awareness of how the ideas of experience and relationship are codependent and mutually indispensable. Awareness of the need for CRM strategies and goals to define the relationships customers need from us and how we are going to create experiences that facilitate that. The companies that understand this, regardless of what they call their initiative, team, or organization, will be successful. Those who do not should make an investment in a comfortable casket for both their CRM and Cx efforts.

About the author: JC writes about interpersonal and business relationships and the technology that improves them. His books are available on Amazon and other major retailers.