The age of the customer is characterized by customer empowerment, digital technology, and new business models. These factors are changing who buys consulting, what they're expecting, how consultants execute on these projects, and how clients pay for them. As a result, firms including Deloitte, McKinsey, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cognizant and others are changing delivery, hiring and contracting models to:
Enable reusable assets and software solutions to comprise the bulk of consulting projects. As clients in an increasingly fast world move away from multi year projects, they expect consultants to do the same. Prefab consulting allows consultants to come in with the majority of the work done and focus their problem solving on the issues that are the most unique to that client. This creates a partially “out of the box” solution that eliminates repetitive work from client to client and reduces lead time considerably.
Gradually replace technical generalists with specialists. As prefab consulting takes over the work which generalist MBA grads have done in the past, consultants will look to specialists to solve the complex and unique problems that remain after the reusable assets finish the front end work.
Provide near immediate access through On demand consulting. In a connected world where we are used to have everything at our fingertips, consultants are expected to be there in our moment of need as well. Consultancies will need to find the experts, make them available, provide context for the questions and connect them with the client- all at the touch of a button.
Change the client vs consultancy mindset through co-creation and risk based contracts. Traditional contracts create conflicting goals between the client and consultants. Value-based contracts create greater collaboration as both parties will be striving towards the same metrics.
Native advertising corresponds to many types of advertising, from paid search and social ads to the sponsored editorial offerings from media companies. Put simply, it’s confusing as hell to understand.
Success at native means both the user of a media site or app and the advertiser explicitly get value out of the experience. To understand if a particular kind of native advertising is going to be successful, marketers should assess four criteria: Format, reach, context, and identification.
The seven core types of native advertising** all function to varying degrees against these criteria.
For example, the paid search ad is a proven format that generates a reasonably predictable response rate; an in-feed ‘click to play’ cinematograph will be less predictable, and probably less reliable. Pinterest’s promoted pins provide considerable reach for some populations; a native ad appearing programmatically in apps and targeted for a specific behavior may have far lower reach. Likewise, there’s wide variety for context and identification.
To help marketers make smart decisions, we broke down all seven native advertising types against these four criteria, and explored compelling examples of each. For Forrester clients, have a look at the analysis – our Vendor Landscape: Native Advertising Technologies, Q3 2016. Not a client? This’ll have to do as a teaser.
*** those seven types: paid search, paid social, in-feed exchanges, native ad vendors, publisher networks, publisher-specific custom native, and influencer activation.
We’ve entered the age of the customer, where powerful customers are disrupting every industry. In response, companies will have to change how they develop, market, sell, and deliver products and services directly to their customers and through their partners. CIOs and their teams are crucial to these strategic responses and will have to track transformation and performance with new metrics to go beyond their traditional IT approach to include the business technology (BT) strategy — technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers.
Existing approaches to Balanced Scorecards deliver limited value in this new environment. This is why Forrester has created an updated Tech Management Balanced Scorecard (based on the original framework proposed by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton) in which we recommend an approach that addresses four components: business outcomes, agility, health, and service (see Figure).
Since 73% of companies understand the business value of data and aspire to be data-driven, but just 29% confirm that they are actually turning data into action – it’s not a leap to suspect that organizations are at risk of collecting data without deploying them in ways that support deeper customer engagement.
This concept – linking insights to action – is an example of a mission-critical imperative that transcends client roles. Consider:
It's no surprise that tech companies are vested in the digital transformation of their customers. But many tech companies find it difficult to leave their product-centric models behind and focus on customer outcomes. That's just one of the findings from the research published on digital transformation in the tech sector.
True customer obsession demands an outside-in perspective. Tech companies must learn to see their business from the perspective of their customers; beginning with customer desires and working back to the new digital capabilities that can enable the outcomes that satisfy those desires.
But a common problem for tech companies is their business structure. Built around successful products, the P&L structure in most tech companies reflects internal strength — business capabilities if you like — the structure optimizes the ability to bring specific products and product features to market. But from the outside looking in, the product structure can seem at odds with what the customer wants. I can't count how many times the same company has treated me like a new customer, even though I already own one of the products made by the brand — my guess is you've had a similar experience.
Of course this isn't a problem unique to the tech industry. But the tech industry sits at the heart of the digital transformation of many businesses — helping their customers take advantage of their technology to transform their businesses. So you might be forgiven for expecting the tech industry to have figured out it's own transformation already. Not so much.
I won't try to diagnose them all (my colleague Sarah Sikowitz did a good job on the agency transparency issue on her blog). And I won't even go into the fact that the agencies didn't challenge these bogus counts.
But I have a word of advice for the digital industry: stop obsessing over bits and pixels and clicks (Oh My!). I've been in digital for 20 years and by now the industry should have learned that no matter how readily available this data is, it is meaningless relative to what advertisers really want to know: is my message getting through and having an impact? I may sound old fashioned, but in contrast to these irrelevant, spurious, and potentially inflated data, I'll take a good-old exposed/unexposed ad communication/awareness/attribute association/purchase intent lift survey any day.
True, I give up the individual-level data the digital prides itself on. But if the data is this weak and subject to manipulation, it is at best an inaccurate view of ad performance and likely to be downright misleading.
Your customers use apps like Facebook, Skype, Snapchat, and Facetime to hold video calls and you should be using video to connect with them, too. In our report Now You See Me — Video Chat Improves The Customer Experiencewe found that retail, financial services, healthcare, and other verticals embrace video chat as a way to serve customers in their time of need and as a way to drive measureable ROI.
The cultural and technology barriers to easy video chat have come down in recent years. A UK-based bank deployed video chat for its advisors to use with high net worth clients. These clients, who are typically older, are just as familiar with video calling as their younger cohorts--they use Skype and Facetime to talk to children and grandchildren. On the technology end, a key enabler for video chat is WebRTC, which allows browser-based video conversations without the requirement for downloading plugins. A key driver to adoption is reducing friction.
UK footwear retailer Schuh expanded video chat by deploying it to mobile and increasing the number of video agents by 20% in two years. Video is now Schuh’s busiest customer service channel, eclipsing phone and text chat.
Video chat is useful across the customer journey. Agents can answer questions about a product, they can use co-browsing to help a customer navigate a site or find an item and they can answer questions about how to use a product once purchased.
Human beings are emotional. The chemical reactions that trigger emotions determine our feelings toward a brand and our likelihood to spend. This fundamental, primal relationship is baked into how humans operate; however, it is not yet baked into how most companies operate.
Initial CX efforts gave us better insights into customer journeys across digital, physical, and human touchpoints. That opened a window into what causes emotional responses and provided an early warning system for emotions that provoke actions. But we’ve only begun to uncover the profound relationship between emotion and revenue. For example:
In the hotel industry, among customers who felt valued, 90% will advocate for the brand, 67% plan to increase their spending with the brand, and 87% plan to stay with the brand, per Forrester’s Customer Experience (CX) Index.
According to CX Index data, the TV service provider industry had the largest percentage of customers who felt annoyed compared with any other industry in our study. The result is that just 8% will advocate for the brand, only 13% plan to increase their spending with the brand, and barely 15% plan to stay with the brand.
Users can abandon digital sites and purchase paths within 50 milliseconds if the experience does not meet their (ever-increasing) expectations.
“The answers you get depend on the questions you ask.”
― Thomas S. Kuhn
The Socratic method proposes that you can learn much by asking questions to test the logic of various facts and beliefs to stimulate critical thinking. Forrester's 30-minute inquiries often become a miniature version of the Socratic approach, usually with the client having an initial set of questions and the analyst then having a few questions in return to clarify the topic.
“To be able to ask a question clearly is two-thirds of the way to getting it answered.”
― John Ruskin
After 11 months, I have engaged in dozens of inquiries with customers from many industries — all of them asking about sales enablement automation (SEA). Questions range from what technology to use to how to organize and support it, among other areas. As you'd expect, certain questions come up more than others. My latest report, “Brief: Six Sales Enablement FAQs — And Three More That Should Be On Your List,” presents the most common questions (and answers), which — I hope — stimulate some critical thinking about how B2B marketers can use SEA to sell better and more.
“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”
― Attributed to Voltaire
It’s worth looking at the first six questions and determining how you would answer them for your own organization:
In the spring of 2015, we began to hear a curious cacophony around ABM. ABM stands for “account-based marketing,” a marketing concept that’s been around for decades. All of a sudden, it was being used in reams of promotional copy distributed by marketing consultancies, data service providers, and software automation vendors alike.
Marketing-led prophesies can sometimes be self-fulfilling. So now, B2B marketers everywhere are busy researching, launching, and conducting ABM initiatives — ostensibly to engage prospects at target accounts with personalized messaging, content, and offers. And as a growing number of product vendors, service providers, and event organizers enter this gold rush, B2B marketers are in danger of falling for the “fool’s gold” of unrealistic revenue windfalls and investment returns.
It is time to take stock and sieve this topic more effectively. The musicians among us would prefer to hear more harmony than discord. But the truth is that ABM means different things to different people; our recent survey of 120 B2B marketers on their strategies and tactics shows that:
“73% agreed that ABM is a term that lacks specific meaning and is used inconsistently today.”
The same survey showed that four out of five found ABM effectiveness falls short of their expectations. So much for 18 months of marketing spend by all those vendors!
Forrester’s research, in comparison, can be somewhat boring: We have long been talking about the age of the customer, the need for customer obsession, and post-digital marketing — and, of course, we tell our B2B marketing clients that customer obsession should be account-based if that aligns with their business strategy.
We do not make markets; we observe and provide insights about them, so we have been quiet on ABM in that respect.