The holidays have a way of bringing people together in more ways than one – and every holiday season I’m reminded of just how universal the power of human emotion is. Regardless of lifestyle, background, and world view, people everywhere are truly emotional beings, moved by fundamental feelings of joy and sadness, hope and fear, love and loss. And anyone who has observed frantic shoppers careening through store aisles or the unbearable anticipation of children on Christmas morning can see that, at this time of year, emotions are at their peak.
Advertisers know holiday shopper emotions better than anyone; they have perfected the art of tugging at heart strings or prompting tears to spur a purchase. But as consumers wear their hearts on their sleeve, retailers broadly must be in tune with – and responsive to – customer sentiments. For example, when passionate shoppers turn to social channels, retailers mustn’t dismiss their cheering or venting. In fact, Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) data shows that consumers often experience their most positive brand interactions on social media – and remember them more favorably than engagements on websites, over email, through phone conversations, and even in person:
The fact that human beings make affinity and spend decisions based in large part on emotion is not new news. It is the underlying logic of advertising – heartstrings are the early sparks of revenue. But there is a reason that most companies have not baked emotion into experience design and into the day-to-day engagement with customers. It's hard to do.
Emotions are situational, dynamic, and hard to read. Yet the gulf between the science of emotion and the business of emotion is closing, creating a set of new tools to convert great experiences into sustained growth.
Last week during an online event, I brought together thought leaders, Anjali Lai, Harley Manning, and Roxie Strohmenger, to translate the science of emotion to the pragmatic business application of emotion. If you were unable to watch it live, here is the replay – and for good measure, here are key takeaways from our discussion:
Emotion is the next step in getting to know your customer.
The customer is now the center of the universe, and to win in this market, companies need to know – really know – their customer. Beyond satisfaction, advocacy, and journeys, companies must understand what makes customers tick and how to influence affinity and spend. Emotion is not the next thing "just because"; it gets to the heart and soul of operating in a customer-led market.
Just published, The Forrester Wave™: Sales Enablement Automation Systems, Q4 2016 highlights the nine leading vendors in the space using 33 criteria. Following on from the Forrester report Vendor Landscape: Sales Enablement Automation, the Forrester Wave report whittles down 18 vendors to nine of the strongest players in the sales enablement market.
The Forrester Wave evaluation process is rigorous, involving in-depth demos and customer references. As my colleague Lori Wizdo noted in a recent blog post about her report, The Forrester Wave™: Lead-To-Revenue Management Platform Vendors, Q4 2016, there’s no hiding for either the vendor or the analyst. The product and marketing teams for all the vendors are passionate and committed in presenting and defending their solution.
As the first Forrester Wave to cover the sales enablement automation market for B2B marketers, this report also offers a clear definition of just what is needed to be a successful solution. While there are many functions that are consistent across the solutions, such as CRM integration (mostly Salesforce) and various levels of back-end content management, there are clear differences as well. The solutions tended to be either/or:
Synchronous solutions that focus on the live presenting and meeting experience, whether face-to-face or virtual.
Asynchronous solutions that target engagement with content via email.
For over a year now, I and several colleagues on our Technographics and Data teams have been working on a completely new way to understand consumers' complex feelings about privacy and personal data. The effort was inspired by Forrester's brand mission to challenge thinking, and lead change. We've been researching consumer privacy for a while now, but we wanted to bring it to life, and to provide our clients a way to assess their own customers' privacy sensitivities in order to best understand how to apply the frameworks we've developed over time.
Dozens of hours of survey design and data analysis later, I'm incredibly proud to introduce Forrester's Consumer Privacy Segmentation. We've defined four distinct segments of consumers, based on their attitudes and behaviors surrounding personal data collection and use:
Gina Fleming, my co-author and our Manager of Data Science, will soon write a post about the tremendous work she and her team did to develop this segmentation, but for now, I thought I'd share a few of my own big "a-has!" from the study.
Privacy isn't binary, no matter how much pundits try to convince you it is. Individuals have a nuanced sense of privacy, and the degrees to which it matters in certain circumstances. Our willingness to share data with others -- from people to government to businesses -- isn't static, and our motivations to share information vary widely. That said...
Forrester recently presented our Asia Pacific 2017 Predictions at events across Singapore, Sydney, and Beijing, followed by a webinar earlier this week for customers across the region. We shared our view that businesses today are under attack, but not by their competitors. They are under attack from their customers. Three years ago, Forrester identified a major shift in the market, ushering in the age of the customer. Power has shifted away from companies and towards digitally savvy, technology-empowered customers who now decide winners and losers.
Our Empowered Customer Segmentation shows that consumers in Asia Pacific are evolving — and becoming more empowered — along five key dimensions. These five key shifts explain changing consumption trends and lead to a sense of customer empowerment: Consumers are increasingly willing to experiment, reliant on technology, inclined to integrate digital and physical experiences, able to handle large volumes of information, and determined to create the best experiences for themselves.
Jeff Bezos is a legendary innovator whose company, Amazon, is driving business transformation across industries. Clearly he’s not shy about challenging the status quo. In 2013 he invested a portion of his personal fortune in The Washington Post, a publisher of repute since 1877.
Though many feared he would interfere with the content, he hasn’t out of respect for the trained and talented Post editors and writers, as he explained recently, “This is a highly professionalized activity… We have people who have decades of experience doing it.”
One of the great innovators of our era respects experience and the quality content that experience produces. Why don’t marketers, who are professionals in their own right, extend the same respect to publishers? They used to. Back in the day, marketers and publishers worked together, and business for both was good.
The same can’t be said today. Now, marketers have become convinced that they must ignore their own history, experience, and skills, and, instead, pursue automation, scramble for scale, and buy inventory blindly on random sites without regard for context or quality.
That strategy is not working out very well, according to Bob Liodice, president and chief executive officer of the Association of National Advertisers. On October 19th he opened the association’s Masters of Marketing Conference by observing that marketers have lost control of their industry, which he characterized as “unproductive, unsustainable, and undesirable.”
Business-to-business (B2B) ecosystems facilitate the continuous exchange of information and collaboration. B2B ecosystems will play a central role for all businesses because they form the basis for redefining approaches toward innovation, knowledge management, supply-chain optimization, product development, sales, and marketing.
While the ultimate focus of these ecosystems is to create customer value, their more immediate effect is to drive operational agility in service of customers. Mobility will be a central enabler for these B2B digital ecosystems. Why?
Mobility is evolving beyond enterprise mobility management. Mobility shifts the way B2B ecosystems service their customers, support their partners, and affect competition. As a first step, technology teams need to move beyond enterprise mobility management (EMM). This comprises device, app, and content management, as well as telecom expenses, policy management, and security management. EMM relies on using several mobile apps in parallel without any functional integration between them.
Enterprise mobility experiences will significantly improve. Today, despite all the excitement concerning automation and machine learning, smart mobile devices still rely on direct user instructions. Business customers and employees have to move in and out of dedicated mobile apps to obtain support for specific business processes like procurement, product information, or sales analytics. These enterprise mobile apps rarely take into account the conditions that particular enterprise users find themselves in.
Your digital intelligence strategy and implementation is struggling to keep up with your device-hopping customers. You’re trying. And it’s difficult – so many obstacles. But you face the Digital Dilemma, introduced by colleague Nigel Fenwick: your customers’expectations of digital experience keep rising. When any digital experience they have with you doesn’t meet their expectations, their perception of the value your firm provides falls … which leads to risk of customers taking their business elsewhere. Ouch. So, tackle the Digital Dilemma head on. Focus your digital intelligence strategy like a laser on the customer experiences that matter most to your business outcomes. How? With an actionable digital intelligence strategic plan. Here are 3 of the key components your strategic plan must include.
1. Align the plan to the right metrics and KPIs. The optimal approach is to align measurement with customer-focused KPIs that stakeholders are already measured on. Simple, but not necessarily easy. But this is how you get that laser focus on the experiences that matter most to outcomes.
How My Experience As A Decision Maker Formed My B2B Branding World View
Before I threw caution to the wind and launched myself with wild abandon into the world of branding, I had a normal life. For a few years, I ran a retail business for a Berkshire Hathaway company (and since everyone asks, yes, I did meet and have dinner with Warren, although I suspect his recollection may not be as crisp as mine.) We manufactured and sold uniforms to government agencies: Police, fire, EMS, postal service, and others. As you'd expect, our customers were quite insistent that the fabric for the uniforms be made in the U.S. That is until budgets got slashed, and belts got tightened. Then the only thing that mattered was cost. So we were sent scampering to find the lowest-cost fabric and our global fabric sourcing program had to go from zero to sixty in a matter of months.
As packages continue to arrive from this year’s record-breaking Black Friday weekend, it’s no doubt you’re seeing Amazon packages complete with front-and-center ads for Amazon’s Echo and Dot devices. You may even be one of the reported millions that ordered one that weekend.
These are more than just devices — they are Alexa-enabled and are helping Alexa further integrate into consumers’ lives. And Alexa isn’t alone: from Alexa to Google Now to Microsoft’s Cortana to Apple’s Siri, we have a budding class of intelligent agents (IAs) on the rise. In 2015, 45% of US online adults used at least one.
As consumers, these purchases mean a new product or a holiday gift. As a marketer, these are part of the growing intelligent agent landscape that threatens your direct relationship with customers. How? As consumers fall in love with the customized, proactive utilities IAs provide, IAs will capture customer moments. The good news: If you work with them, you can gain valuable new customer access and insights. If you don’t, you risk losing your direct customer interactions to this powerful intermediary.
How do you land on the positive scenario? The answer isn’t “launch a [skill, card, whatever the agent-specific experience may be].” Don’t repeat the app mishaps we saw from brands launching an app whether it made strategic sense or not. Instead, determine the strength of your brand loyalty, digital commitment, and data insights to decide if launching your own IA strategy is feasible today — or if you should pursue a different type of IA strategy as outlined in this report.