I attended an NG Telecom summit in Hong Kong recently; at the event, I chaired a discussion on how telcos need to improve the customer experience.
Consumers now have powerful mobile devices in their hands, speedy access to social platforms, and the ability to call up information on the go. More importantly, customers today can choose to easily switch to a competitor if they don’t like the customer experience they are receiving. As a result, telcos no longer “own” customers — it’s the other way around.
The discussion participants all agreed that telcos must do the following to meet customer-centric needs:
Simplify systems and processes. The debate on how to simplify complex telco business support systems (BSS) to make it easy for customers to consume services is an ongoing one. When BSS cannot provide a single, unified view of the customer, it’s difficult to provide a consistent customer experience. This happens with CRM systems: Call center agents struggle through five or six screens just to get a complete customer profile while irate customers spend time repeating their personal details or waiting for a resolution. Telcos must be like OTT players, which have very complicated businesses, systems, and processes on the back end but present a simple front-end interface to the customer.
It was five years ago, March 2009, when Cisco formally announced “Project California,” its (possibly intentionally) worst-kept secret, as Cisco Unified Computing System. At the time, I was working at Hewlett Packard, and our collective feelings as we realized that Cisco really did intend to challenge us in the server market were a mixed bag. Some of us were amused at their presumption, others were concerned that there might be something there, since we had odd bits and pieces of intelligence about the former Nuova, the Cisco spin-out/spin-in that developed UCS. Most of us were convinced that they would have trouble running a server business at margins we knew would be substantially lower than their margins in their core switch business. Sitting on top of our shiny, still relatively new HP c-Class BladeSystem, which had overtaken IBM’s BladeCenter as the leading blade product, we were collectively unconcerned, as well as puzzled about Cisco’s decision to upset a nice stable arrangement where IBM, HP and Dell sold possibly a Billion dollars’ worth of Cisco gear between them.
Five years later, HP is still number one in blade server units and revenue, but Cisco appears to be now number two in blades, and closing in on number three world-wide in server sales as well. The numbers are impressive:
· 32,000 net new customers in five years, with 14,000 repeat customers
· Claimed $2 Billion+ annual run-rate
· Order growth rate claimed in “mid-30s” range, probably about three times the growth rate of any competing product line.
In 2014, customer loyalty is a bit of an anomaly. Customers are empowered, informed, and have myriad options to choose from. They don’t really need to be loyal. But for companies doing business in the Age of the Customer, earning customer loyalty is more important than ever before. Satisfied loyal customers are the only reliable source of growth.
So, what do loyalty strategies look like today? For most companies I talk to their loyalty program is their strategy. While narrow, this approach doesn’t completely miss the mark. After all, the premise of a loyalty program is to create a mutually beneficial exchange for rewarding customers and collecting customer insight. And, for many marketers I talk to in retail, hospitality, and other industries, their most valuable customers are active participants in their loyalty program. The issue is that programs today are better positioned to “lock-in” customers rather than leverage member insights to drive personalization and improve the way they serve their customers. The traditional means of “driving” loyalty with points and discounts are no longer sufficient. It’s time for companies to evolve their approach to loyalty programs and strategies with a focus on relationships, advocacy, and engagement.
A journalist called and asked me today about the market size for wearables. I replied, “That’s not the big story.”
So what is? It's data, and what you can do with it.
First you have to collect the data and have the permission to do so. Most of these relationships are one-to-one. I have these relationships with Nike, Jawbone, Basis, RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal and a few others. I have an app for each on my phone that harvests the data and shows it to me in a way I can understand. Many of these devices have open APIs, so I can import my Fitbit or Jawbone data into MyFitnessPal, for example.
From the story on 9to5mac.com, it is clear that Apple (like with Passbook) is creating a single place for consumers to store a wide range of healthcare and fitness information. From the screenshots they have, it also appears that one can trend this information over time. The phone is capable of collecting some of this information, and is increasingly doing so with less battery burn due to efficiencies in how the sensor data is crunched, so to speak. Wearables – perhaps one from Apple – will collect more information. Other data will certainly come from third-party wearables - such as fitness wearables, patches, bandages, socks and shirt - and attachments, such as the Smartphone Physical. There will always be tradeoffs between the amount of information you collect and the form factor. While I don't want to wear a chubby, clunky device 24x7, it gets better every day.
The update to the Benchmarks report for Forrester’s Service Management & Automation (SMA) playbook is now live and with its publication marks a change in how we at Forrester - and you - should look at SMA.
Past efforts in IT service management have brought some changes, but as our survey done in conjunction with itSMF USA indicates, not much has changed. Service management has focused too much on internal infrastructure and internal operations (IT), and while this is still important, the demands for technology to acquire and retain customers, which Forrester calls business technology (BT), must be addressed to leverage and apply technology to advance, not hinder or stifle the business we enable.
The world we support is progressing exponentially while ITSM is progressing linearly, arguably statically – please see the report for further evidence. Being linear is being human; the exponential comes from harnessing technology, and radically shifting our focus towards service management and automation topics essential to being partners with our business teams.
In lieu of data, here are three concepts from the report that promote a new way of thinking:
Are you looking for a vendor or vendors to support your voice of the customer (VoC) program? Or are you reviewing your current VoC vendor(s)?
Selecting the right vendor or vendors can be hard! Why? The VoC vendor landscape is hard to decipher. There are many but relatively small vendors, and they rely on an interconnected network of partners, acquire each other at an impressive rate, and regularly expand into new spaces. And companies often already have a number of vendors they work with. In my recent webinar about VoC, most of the attendees had from three to five vendors that supported their VoC program in some shape or form.
But there are a few beacons to help orient you in your quest:
The VoC vendor market is an ecosystem. What vendors are the right “lid” for your “VoC program pot” depends entirely on your internal capabilities and the characteristics of your VoC program. We identified customer feedback management (CFM) platforms and VoC specialist vendors. CFM platforms support VoC programs with a robust set of capabilities that include feedback collection, integration of feedback with other data in a centralized data hub, analysis, reporting, and closed-loop action management. VoC specialists offer a subset of VoC platform vendor capabilities. Their areas of expertise range from surveying customers in order to generate measurement data to mining your unstructured feedback with text analytics, monitoring social media data, and consulting to help establish or evolve a VoC program.
Forrester recently partnered with Internet Retailer magazine to survey business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce professionals and produce first-of-its-kind sell-side B2B eCommerce benchmarks. The joint survey developed detailed insights related to B2B budget/spending plans, customer experience comparisons with business-to-consumer (B2C) retailers, feature/function/site component priorities, site measurement/metrics, and mobile and tablet plans.
Increasing customer channel-shift and seeing improved year-over-year metrics. A significant percentage of offline customers are moving online. In fact, 86% of the B2B companies we surveyed said that they had recently migrated offline customers online, while only 14% said that they’d moved online customers offline. B2B eCommerce companies also report that they’re seeing improved Average Order Values (AOVs), conversion rates, and number of lines per order in 2013 versus 2012. Moreover, B2B eCommerce professionals indicate that they are generally maintaining their margins year over year.
I’m seeing many signs of an evolving role and recognition for enterprise architecture. This is changing how we ourselves see the practice of EA.
For example, one of the more frequent inquiries I get from EA leaders is around customer experience and the customer lifecycle - where our clients want to know how EA should help translate business customer experience goals into architecture. Our inquiries around mobile are less around the technology and more around shaping an enterprise digital strategy. The questions we get around Big Data have shifted from technology towards how gain better insights on a company’s markets.
‘Engagement’ is the underlying theme of this evolution. Companies need to build Systems of Engagement - and EAs are at the front-lines of decisions. But also, EAs are stepping up their engagement with their business leaders to provide the value their busness needs.
Just four months later, the debate seems to be over. Is there any doubt now that Facebook has abandoned social marketing, and that its paid ad products aren’t delivering results for most marketers? Consider:
Marketers can now reach just 6% of their fans organically. When we published our research, some brands were surprised to find that Facebook only delivered posts to 16% of their fans. In December a leaked sales deck revealed that Facebook was telling marketers they should expect organic distribution of posts to decline further — but few could guess how far and how fast that distribution would fall. This month, Ogilvy released data showing that the brand pages they manage reach just 6% of fans. For pages with more than 500,000 fans, Ogilvy says reach stands at just 2%.