We are notoriously bad at knowing ourselves. Science shows that we are not quite as beautiful, or smart, or ethical as we would like to think. As a result, our self-proclaimed beliefs do not always translate into action; often, we say we’ll do “the right thing” but (consciously or not) we’ll proceed to do the opposite. Are we really nothing more than delusional creatures of habit bound to repeat our mistakes? No – actually, far from it. Certain individuals are hyperaware of their values and follow through on decisions and actions accordingly. Although a small group, these consumers spark awareness, change their behavior, demand transparency, and inspire trends.
My latest report examines what, when, and why consumers buy, when values are central to their decision-making process. In my research, I found that, despite limited knowledge and patterns of self-deceit, consumers want to purchase from companies that embrace ethical practices. More broadly, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of company values and are opening their wallets when company values resonate with theirs:
No one disputes that treating customers well is the right thing to do: Virtually all respondents in a Forrester survey of CX professionals said that executives at their companies consider customer impact to be at least somewhat important when making business decisions. But compared with hard return on investment (ROI) numbers in business cases for other initiatives, CX projects won't get needed funding if their estimated returns are limited to benefits like improved satisfaction or higher Net Promoter Score (NPS).
Step 1: Prioritize Customer Experience Improvement Opportunities. Most companies are spoiled for choice when it comes to finding parts of the experience to improve. But all that choice can be debilitating when trying to decide how to best allocate scarce resources and small budgets. Core customer experience activities like collecting insights from customers and employees, and mapping customer journeys are valuable in this step to help companies identify the improvement projects that will have the greatest CX impact.
Unfortunately, visa issues prevented me from attending the OpenStack summit in Vancouver last week — despite submitting my application to the Canadian embassy in Beijing 40 days in advance! However after following extensive online discussions of the event and discussing it with vendors and peers, I would say that OpenStack is moving to a new phase, for two reasons:
The rise of containers is laying the foundation for the next level of enterprise readiness. Docker’s container technology has become a major factor in the evolution of OpenStack components. Docker drivers have been implemented for the key components of Nova and Heat for extended computing and orchestration capabilities, respectively. The Magnum project aiming at container services allows OpenStack to create clusters with Kubernetes (k8s) by Google and Swarm by Docker.com. The Murano project contributed by Mirantis aiming at application catalog services is also integrated with k8s.
The age of the customer demands more of companies, forcing them to change how they develop, market, sell, and deliver products and services. In response, CIOs must invest in business technology (BT) — the technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers. At Forrester’s Forum For Technology Leaders in Lisbon (June 2-3), leaders from firms like BMJ, Portugal Telecom, BBVA, Mastercard, Alliander, DER Touristik and UniCredit will share strategies that you can use to achieve Read more
The Cloud Foundry Foundation held its 2015 Summit recently in Santa Clara, attracting 1,500 application developers, operation experts, technical and business managers, service providers, and community contributors. After listening to the presentations and discussions, I believe that Cloud Foundry —one of the major platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings —is making a strategic shift from its traditional focus on application staging and execution to a new emphasis on micro-service composition. This is a key factor that will help companies gain the agility they need for both technology management and business transformation. Here’s what I learned:
Containers are critical for micro-service-based agility. Container based micro-services are getting momentum: IBM presented their latest Bluemix UI micro-services architecture; while SAP introduced their latest practice on Docker. Containers can encapsulate fine-grained business logic as micro-services for dynamic composition, which will greatly simplify development and deployment of applications, helping firms achieve continuous delivery to meet dynamic business requirements. This is why Forrester believes that the combination of containers and micro-services will prove irresistible for developers.
Forrester has just published its 2015 US Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark. The report reveals important insights about the mobile offerings from the five largest retail banks in the US: Bank of America, Chase, Citi, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo. Forrester clients can find the full benchmark report here:
All of these bank brands are relatively strong, providing customers with the services and functionality they’ve come to expect from mobile apps and sites. But perhaps the most significant takeaway from our research is that no single bank is leading: When it comes to mobile, the big US banks are achieving parity, not breakthrough.
Overall, the US banks are meeting customer’s needs... The US banks achieved overall scores of 65 or higher out of 100, scoring particularly well for enabling a wide range of touchpoints and transactional features. All five banks have extensive functionality across bill pay transfers and P2P payments, like mobile remote deposit capture and adding a payee from within the app.
Forrester has just published its 2015 Canadian Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark. The report reveals important insights about the mobile offerings from the five largest retail banks in Canada: BMO, CIBC, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank, and TD Canada Trust. Forrester clients can find the full benchmark report here:
But different banks excel in different areas of mobile banking. CIBC and Scotiabank received the highest overall scores, each earning an impressive 75 out of a possible 100 in our benchmark. The two banks achieve mobile banking success with strong core banking features plus enhancements in key areas: For example, CIBC offers excellent product research tools, while Scotiabank recently launched a best-in-class help service within its mobile apps (see image below).
Empowered customers, armed with ever-increasing digital capability, increasingly expect any information, any service, at their moment of need. We call this the age of the customer. Innovative brands, from Delta to Southwest, T-Mobile to Verizon, Home Depot to Walgreens, and Caterpillar to Rolls Royce, are sharing with Forrester how they are disrupting the way they work to meet their empowered customers’ needs, to become customer-obsessed. Becoming customer-obsessed gives you, the CIO, an unprecedented opportunity: to overcome the nagging frustration of IT gravity that suppresses your and your team’s ability to influence the direction of your business, to build new competitive advantage. But you have to be willing to change the way you work.
You’re in an enviable position and are more essential to your firm’s success than ever. Together with your CMO, you have the best overall knowledge of your customers and the technology know-how to deliver a superior customer experience and drive growth.
We’ve begun to identify how leading firms change their operating models to deliver more value and become truly customer-obsessed. Much of that change falls on the CIO to drive. This research is ongoing, but the actions leaders take to shape their customer-obsessed operating model — focused on customer loyalty, innovation, and most importantly, growth, and fueled by customer insight — are becoming clear:
There is turbulence in the B2B marketing zeitgeist. Why? The most quoted factoids of the modern marketing age have been discredited. Are buyers really not 57% of the way through their journey before they speak with a vendor sales rep? Are they really not sourcing 67% of their buying research online? Was it ever true? If not, how can we believe the new insight that sales rep involvement now starts at the beginning of the journey two-thirds of the time?
B2B marketers, keep calm and carry on. There’s been no fundamental disruption in your world.
It’s still true that today’s buyers control their journey through the buying cycle much more than today’s vendors control the selling cycle. In a recent survey, 74% of business buyers told Forrester they conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase. This buyer dynamic changes the role of B2B marketing in a fundamental way. But that’s where the prevailing knowledge about ‘today’s buyer’ will fail you.
You gotta know YOUR buyer.
All of these arresting statistics about buyers represent buyer behavior on average. Averages are great because they show us directional change in the aggregate. But savvy marketing practitioners know that it’s irresponsible to build your customer engagement strategy on aggregate trends. The behavior and proclivities of your buyers might be very different from those averages. Forrester’s detailed research into buyer behavior (Forrester Business Technographics Global Priorities & Journey Survey, 2014) consistently proves that hypothesis. Consider these examples:
Today’s buyers control their journey through the buying cycle much more than today’s vendors control the selling cycle. In a recent survey, 74% of business buyers told us they conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase. This buyer dynamic changes the role of B2B marketing in a fundamental way. Marketing now owns a much bigger piece of the lead-to-revenue cycle. And B2B marketers must take responsibility for engaging with the customer through more of the buying journey. To do this, you need to engineer a cross-channel marketing strategy to successfully engage with buyers who proactively seek the information they need — through digital and social channels, from peers, on YouTube, at events, and through your sales reps — to advance their decision process. Of course, there's no one right way to do this: some buyers prefer to engage with a sales rep who can help them create and evangelize a vision; other buyers want to educate themselves through professional contacts and peer-created content; and yet others are comfortable doing research on vendor websites. Buyer journey mapping is a technique to understand your buyers' path to purchase.
When developing a buyer journey map, remember the "five W's" of interrogative investigation:
Who? B2B buyers purchase in teams. A senior executive might kick off a buying process but delegate the exploration to an individual contributor on the team. End users may be part of the evaluation process or not. Think about the prospective customer as a portfolio of buyer personas who each play different roles in the collective advance toward a decision.