Customer experience management. CEM. It sounds like one of those business buzzphrases that has very little meaning — some nebulous concept that no one can really explain and, therefore, no one can really do right. But in reality, customer experience management is a very important concept. And it’s instrumental in the success of your business, so while it can be a bit nebulous, it’s important to try to understand it. One of the reasons CEM is so nebulous and complicated is the sheer number of factors in your business that it encompasses. Customer experience management involves understanding what’s happening with your customers inside the four walls of your business. It’s not just customer service; it’s not just the human element. CEM also involves working to understand how customers interact with your business and, yes, employees. And, once you understand that interaction and relationship between your customers and your business, CEM involves managing that relationship to make it more streamlined and more positive. I mentioned above that CEM is more than customer service. For example, it’s also how you’ve laid out the floor plan of your business, how you’ve merchandised your products. Are your floor plan and the organization of your merchandise conducive to better sales at the register and stronger customer loyalty? Customer experience management is tricky because it’s not like customer service, where a customer can say, “The woman in the fitting room refused to help me find new sizes when what I brought in didn’t fit!” when asked why they’re choosing not to return to the store. CEM is not necessarily a tangible, qualitative or quantitative thing that customers can cite as reasons to like or dislike a business. Customer experience management is a concept that reaches into every corner of your operation, from operations and finance to merchandising and customer service. It can’t just be an agenda set forth by one department and expected to permeate the rest of your company’s culture: CEM needs to begin as a unified vision, at the very top, and become the foundation for everything your business stands for. Customer experience will fail to be managed if it’s not integrated into one unified message that everyone in your business follows.