The other day, I stopped by my bank’s ATM to get some cash. After entering my card and PIN and while waiting for my money (during which I was a captive audience), I was presented with an ad for a new service from the bank. Unfortunately, the ad’s call-to-action was a message telling me to call the bank’s 1-800 number to find out more.
I had just encountered one of the broken or inadequate cross-channel experiences that millions of customers face every year.
This is a lose-lose situation: In this case, the bank knew — or should have known — a heck of a lot about me as a customer, yet it failed to use context* to design a better experience and guide me seamlessly across touchpoints. And as a result, the bank also failed to cross-sell me any products or services.
Forrester defines cross-channel behavior as any instance in which a customer or prospect moves from one touchpoint to another when completing an objective. Today, cross-channel goes way beyond online-to-offline transitions; going forward, these interactions will only increase in frequency and importance. Digital executives at banks are left with a tangle of customer journeys across various touchpoints (see image below).
The pace of business – heck, the pace of life, gets faster and faster. Faster processing, faster delivery, faster innovation – and faster adoption and abandonment of that innovation -- is the reality we all live in today.
Leaders run fast businesses to win and to stay apace or in front of dynamic customers and disruptive competitive forces. They can’t out-slow the competition. Speed is the only option.
I had the pleasure of participating in a webinar panel to discuss what it means to work at one speed (fast) versus at two speeds as bimodal IT advocates. We discussed why businesses are forced to go fast, the reality and downside of a bimodal IT strategy, and the strategies and approaches to winning based on speed. Here is a quick view of the ground we covered.
The first part of our discussion focused on the factors that are making companies operate at fast speeds. Broadly, it comes down to three factors:
Hyper-adoption and hyper-abandonment: Customers are willing to rapidly try, use, and then possibly discard content, apps, and services in a world of seemingly infinite choices and extremely low cost to entry and exit. This dynamic fundamentally changes – speeds up – what it means to “have” a customer.
I’m sitting here in my hotel room writing this and watching the in-room dining web page on my phone fail. It’s apparently given up the ghost and is caught in a perpetual loop. It’s the first time I tried using this particular hotel chain’s mobile website. The “Room Service Order Online” features prominently on the first page of the in-room guide. Never one to miss out on an opportunity to test a digital experience I figured I’d give it a go.
First, the photo in the room guide shows what looks to be a native app. So naturally, the first thing I did was go to the App store and search for the app using the hotel name. Nothing. HMMM … time to take a closer look at the page in the in-room guide.
Aha … I now see I need to browse to the hotel’s web domain and append /atyourservice. Of course they could have offered a QR code to make it easy but they don’t so I type it all in on the tiny keys on my phone. And then I’m brought to a page that looks remarkably like the hotel chain’s main landing page. Bear in mind I’m browsing while I’m in my room on the hotel’s wifi network. They ought to know where I am.
Nothing on this page says anything about ordering food. But I can browse to reserve a hotel room at one of a number of hotels! I can even checkin! Oh wait - I did that already.
I‘m thinking there must be a link to room-service somewhere …. Wait … there’s a pull down menu at the top … let’s see what this has - surely there’s a room service menu in here?
Customers expect digital experiences to accompany the physical products and services they purchase in today’s highly competitive business market. They want these digital platforms to be personal, easy to navigate, and valuable — regardless of how difficult it is to create and maintain such an experience! That’s why companies looking to create a customer- or partner-facing digital platform need a digital platform engineering services (DPES) partner to guide them through these multifaceted projects that often transform a business.
Digital platforms take a range of forms: internet of things (IoT) platforms, digital experience platforms, eCommerce platforms — basically any digital touchpoint that directly interfaces with customers and partners qualifies. What’s similar across this array of digital platforms is the deep technical talent and experience necessary to design, build, and implement them.
We surveyed seven leading DPES vendors and 48 of their customers for The Forrester Wave™: Digital Platform Engineering Services, Q2 2016, available to Forrester clients. The Forrester Wave is an objective methodology to evaluate competing services. The analysis that determines vendors’ placement is based on data gathered from customer interviews and surveys, briefings from vendors, and analyst expertise. For more information on the DPES market, look for my upcoming brief “Software Skills Are Top Of Mind For Digital Platform Engineering Customers” in May 2016 and a webinar on the Forrester Wave report early this summer.
Not too long ago, Europe’s cloud providers saw the big American imports as nothing but competition. They were to be challenged at every turn, they were to be dissed at every opportunity, they were to be beaten, stomped upon, and sent packing back across the water.
Only, it didn’t work out that way. Even the most paranoid, isolationist, protectionist, and Europe-ist of customers found reasons to use a bit of AWS, or a bit of Azure, or a bit of Google, or a bit of SoftLayer. They used European providers too, but the polarising rhetoric from so many of those home-grown vendors did them no favours with their customers. Very real issues around data territoriality, or proximity to data centres, or low-latency continent-spanning networks got lost in a sea of FUD and negativity. Customers, largely, stopped hearing the valid arguments, and too often just dismissed the lot as sour grapes, or negative marketing.
Thankfully, things appear to be changing. Europe’s providers of public cloud infrastructure have realised that AWS et al aren’t going away. They’ve realised that their prospective customers want to use these hyperscale clouds too. But, instead of disappearing, European providers are finding ways to integrate their offerings with those of the hyperscale cloud providers. Instead of pushing their products as alternatives to a hyperscale offering, they’re now finding ways to augment and add value.
Done right, (almost) everyone might stand to benefit.
“Blockchain” and “distributed ledger” continue to generate plenty of headlines in both the specialist and mainstream press. If these — and vendor publicity materials — were anything to go by, we’re on the cusp of mainstream adoption. But that’s far from the case. And judging by the questions Forrester receives about the topic, there’s still quite a bit of confusion around what the technology can actually do, how mature it really is, and how to assess the many initiatives and software offerings that are out there. Here's what to bear in mind:
There’s no such thing as “the blockchain”. Blockchain technology is best described as a concept that involves a number of key components, including (but not limited to) validation, consensus, replication, and storage. Which components are implemented, and which ‘flavor’ of each, differs between deployments and is determined by the exact use case and requirements; there'll also be differences between public (trustless) and private (trusted) blockchain deployments. Like “cloud” and “big data”, the term “blockchain” should be regarded as useful shorthand, but no more – any discussion should start with the participants clarifying what they mean by the term.
"Thank you for coming to this urgent, last-minute meeting today," I say to you and seven of our mutual colleagues. Pointing to a plate of 10 cookies on the table between us, I explain, "We're in luck, though. As a reward for your willingness to squeeze this meeting in, I have managed to sneak some cookies out of the executive meeting next door!"
We all smile, and that look on your face tells me that you already feel better about this meeting than you did just minutes ago. As I drone on about the urgent topic of the meeting, your mind does the math. Counting you and me, there are nine of us. It doesn't take much to figure out that there is at least one cookie for everyone in the room. Your brain signals a salivary response and depending on your current blood sugar levels, possibly a preemptive insulin release from the pancreas.
In other words, you begin to act like that cookie is yours. If I were to survey you at that moment about how appetizing the cookies seem and how much you expect to enjoy yours, you and the others might collectively estimate the cookies at 6.5 on a scale from 1 to 10. Good cookies, to be sure.
That's when a knock is heard at the door and someone enters — a confederate of mine, though you don't know this — who explains that they made a mistake in letting me take the cookies. In fact, the executives ran out of cookies, and they need eight of them back. I apologize, take two cookies from the plate and put them on a napkin for us to keep. My confederate leaves the room with the eight other cookies.
If I survey you now and ask you how appetizing the two cookies left on the table appear, what do you think happens to your estimate? If you guessed that your desire for the cookies goes up, you are in tune with human nature. Indeed, the average score for the cookies will be higher, coming in at more like 7.5, even though the cookies did not change.
In my previous blog, I discussed why customer experience is important and what the indicators are that your organization needs to transform itself and its customer experience. In this follow-up blog, I cover how an organization transforms to provide a better customer experience as well as lessons that we've learned from our consulting work.
Q: How does an organization begin to transform to provide a better customer experience?
A: Transforming customer experience requires a strategy — a vision for what an organization wants the experience to be and a plan to make it happen. Customer experience professionals whom Forrester surveyed identified the lack of a clear strategy as the biggest obstacle to customer experience success. To overcome this obstacle, Forrester recommends a three-phased approach.
In practice, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for transforming customer experience. And it’s not just the customer experience that needs to change. Oftentimes, so does the organization itself. It depends on the current situation as well as the nature and scope of the transformation needed. For example, does an organization need to reinvent to compete and lead in a rapidly changing sector? Is it trying to escape commoditization and build the competencies to stay ahead of the pack? Or is the challenge to repair critical customer journeys and better orchestrate customer experience management across functions?
The customer journey is vital to success in the age of the customer, and as technology advances, collecting data can help personalize the experience from start to finish. At MARKETING this week, Antonio Sciuto, CMO of Nestlé Waters, will share insight into the company’s brand new ‘war room’ that displays real-time data showing customer journeys and tracking customer touchpoints.
You don’t want to miss Antonio’s talk on Tuesday afternoon. I had the chance to chat with him to get the inside scoop on how he’s leading his organization with a customer-obsessed mindset, from real-time data to customized customer journeys. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: Some may find it hard to see the applicability of customer journey analysis to a product as "simple" as bottled water. When did you first begin focusing on the customer journey? Why?
Antonio Sciuto: Digital is accelerating and changing several aspects of our lives. In the US consumers are now spending 52% of total time on digital media channels. This is evolving the consumer journey shifting marketing focus from building databases to fostering communities. We aim to offer a seamless brand experience evolving from “simple” bottle water to healthy hydration solutions across all touch-points, online and offline.
The myth that open source software is exclusively written by and for lonely — rather odd — individual geeks remains remarkably prevalent. And yet it’s a myth that is almost entirely wrong.
Many of the world’s best-known technology firms make sizeable investments of time and money in open source projects: guiding their strategy, contributing code and expertise, and baking the results deeply into their commercial offerings. Some, like Facebook or Google or IBM, might be names you’d not be too surprised by. Others, like Microsoft or Oracle, are still unfairly associated with an earlier age, in which Linux was branded “a cancer,” and proprietary power ruled.
Many of the world’s biggest brands depend upon open source projects: using them directly, and buying commercial solutions that are themselves dependent upon open source underpinnings.
Red Hat built a $2 billion company on the back of open source software, and the likes of Hortonworks are keen to repeat that feat.
Again and again, we encounter executives who do not grasp how much their organisation already depends on open source. More importantly, they do not see the key role that open source technologies and thinking will play in enabling their efforts to transform into a customer-obsessed business that really can win, serve, and retain customers.