Think about the last time you went through airport security. Or applied for federal benefits. Or paid your taxes.
How did those experiences make you feel? What specific emotions did they invoke in you? Did you feel comforted, hopeful, and valued — or insulted, frustrated, and nervous?
Questions like these are the most important things for federal customer experience (CX) professionals to ask themselves, and our CX Index™ proves it. As my colleague Megan Burns writes in her new CX Index report, “Emotion is the biggest lever you have to pull” to improve CX. In fact, organizations at the top of the CX Index elicited positive emotions about 20 times as often as orgs at the bottom of the Index.
Every customer experience has three dimensions, called the “three E's” of CX: effectiveness, ease, and emotion. Our research shows that the emotions a customer experience elicits influence the quality of the experience more than ease and effectiveness in practically every industry — including government.
CMOs today are increasingly asked to help their firms adapt to increasingly powerful customers. Those who fail to do this risk affecting their company’s long-term viability. To cope, CMOs must lead the transformation of their firm’s strategic planning process to an outside-in perspective focused on the customer. High-performing companies have learned that as customer behavior adapts, so must their business strategy — and have moved from a yearly strategy exercise to a continuous process with a focus on customer value and loyalty. To succeed, CMOs must effectively harness outside-in intelligence and simultaneously collaborate with key C-suite peers to build unified strategies and a shared business technology agenda to win, serve, and retain customers.
In our view, CMOs have a new weapon in their marketing arsenal to achieve this goal: the digital command center. Digital command centers are intelligent nerve centers that let brands quickly track digital moments and respond appropriately to manage their reputation, retarget display ads, drive new sales opportunities, and provide customer support. Beyond listening to social chatter on digital channels such as online forums and analyzing brand relevance, product discussions, and customer viewpoints, it also pulls in unstructured information that is rapidly shared with other departments in the company. For an increasing number of CMOs, such a center delivers actionable insights to improve market research, better support customers, and drive sales.
Beware of insights! Real danger lurks behind the promise of big data to bring more data to more people faster, better, and cheaper: Insights are only as good as how people interpret the information presented to them. When looking at a stock chart, you can't even answer the simplest question — "Is the latest stock price move good or bad for my portfolio?" — without understanding the context: where you are in your investment journey and whether you're looking to buy or sell. While structured data can provide some context — like checkboxes indicating your income range, investment experience, investment objectives, and risk tolerance levels — unstructured data sources contain several orders of magnitude more context. An email exchange with a financial advisor indicating your experience with a particular investment vehicle, news articles about the market segment heavily represented in your portfolio, and social media posts about companies in which you've invested or plan to invest can all generate much broader and deeper context to better inform your decision to buy or sell.
But defining the context by finding structures, patterns, and meaning in unstructured data is not a simple process. As a result, firms face a gap between data and insights; while they are awash in an abundance of customer and marketing data, they struggle to convert this data into the insights needed to win, serve, and retain customers. In general, Forrester has found that:
The problem is not a lack of data. Most companies have access to plenty of customer feedback surveys, contact center records, mobile tracking data, loyalty program activities, and social media feeds — but, alas, it's not easily available to business leaders to help them make decisions.
How will digital disrupt the financial services industry over the next 10 years?
Over the past couple of days, I’ve been meeting with clients at Forrester’s Forum For Technology Leaders in Orlando. Clients mostly want to know how digital will impact their business. My approach in responding to this question is to think like the CEO of the company in question: First, understand the customer’s desires; then figure out how those desires can best be met profitably — I imagine how future technology changes might create new sources of customer value.
We’ve already seen massive change in the financial services sector: Technology is dramatically changing our customer experience and helping firms educate their customers. What more is yet to come? And what will companies need to do to win customers in the future?
While this is a complex question, it’s not hard to imagine a very different reality to the one that exists today:
Most parents cheerfully mark the key milestones in their child’s path to adulthood: first step,first word, first school, first sleepover, first broken bone, and so on. But for many parents, no milestone causes as much anxiety as “first-time driver,” which is bestowed on all USA-based teenagers upon their16th birthday.
While surviving the experience of having our child become a driver may seem far removed from the world of access governance and entitlement certification, I found some parallels between managing a teenaged driver and managing the access rights and IT privileges of the end users in your organization. You can read more about it in my latest report, “Wake-Up Call: Poorly Managed Access Rights Are A Breach Waiting To Happen,” but here is a quick preview.
A common problem facing parents of teenaged drivers and IT organizations is that they have properly authorized users but often lack visibility into actual usage of those access rights. In the case of the teenaged drivers, parents often seek data around vehicle usage (Where did it go? At what time and at what speed?). For IT security professionals, organizations can no longer rely purely on static lists of authorized users and their access rights. So, just the way parents can impose mileage restrictions (reading the odometer to limit the distance a car can go in a given night) or fuel restrictions, an IT security team cansupplement access governance processes with additional usage data such as:
1. Has the employee accessed the application/system during the last certification period?
2. How often did the employee use the given entitlement?
Omnichannel is now a must-have. At both events, omnichannel retail was front and center. Adyen underscored the opportunities inherent in integrating online and offline payments. At the Borderfree event, Stephen Sadove, the former chairman and CEO of Saks, kicked off the event with 10 disruptive trends. He declared that #1 and #10 were most important: #1 was the shift to omnichannel. Sadove cited the substantial gross margin implications of being able to move inventory between channels; he also emphasized it’s “not a sustainable point of view ” to believe that getting one view of the customer is just too expensive.
The demands of retail leaders have shifted. Other issues that came up regularly with attendees at both events were the changing needs of retail and the challenge of hiring qualified talent (“talent requirements” was the #10 big trend on Sadove’s list above). Today’s business leaders must be able to deal with a laundry list of new topics — e.g. mobile payments, cross-border eCommerce — many of which wouldn’t have registered on their agenda just a decade ago.
Naysayers love to complain that real customer experience (CX) improvement is only for the private sector because government is subject to unique and insurmountable pressures. Don’t believe these cynics. Many major corporations must overcome the same hurdles, and some federal agencies are finding ways to break out, too. Use this list of comebacks to subdue government CX skeptics the next time they start raving about:
Entrenched organizations. Even the most stagnant agency can change. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is taking a wrecking ball to its ossified structure with a major CX pivot that includes an overhauled organization; revised policies and procedures; and personnel changes that include the appointment of a chief customer officer. Private sector companies in perennially paralyzed industries like airlines are also breaking free. Delta Air Lines has soared in our CX Index™ thanks to major innovations to its policies, procedures, technical capabilities, and training.
Complex regulations. Healthcare companies groan under the weight of federal and state regulations, yet some companies in this industry find new ways to provide outstanding CX while working within the system. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan shot up more than 20 points in our CX Index last year by simplifying technical terminology and making interactions clearer for customers. Despite being hamstrung by outmoded regulations and congressional meddling, the US Postal Service just tied for first among the 18 federal agencies on our CX Index.
All the big data technology in the world won't close the gaps between data and action. One global bank told us, "even with all the capabilities and tools in place, we are drowning in data and starving for insight."
To harness the power of all your data to attract and serve customers -- to be a digital business -- you also need a new way of consistently harnessing insights that matter: insights teams using an insights-to-execution process anchored by a new digital insights architecture. We call this combination of people, process, and technology "systems of insight" (see Figure 1).
What we found is that successful firms go beyond big data and business intelligence practices to build the business discipline and technology to harness insights and consistently turn data into action. This approach works by linking business actions back to data and discovering and testing insights to take action (see Figure 2).
Systems of insight embody five essential advances over previous approaches:
Today, it is vital for companies to understand and connect to every moment of the digital customer journey. But for most organizations, there are so many delivery challenges that they can’t do it alone: 84% of companies we surveyed use agencies and/or system integrator partners to help deliver digital customer experiences.
Choosing the right services firm takes some match-making magic: the partnership can either end up as a happy marriage or end in bitter divorce. In order to help Forrester clients, we recently released our report, Market Overview: Digital Experience Services Providers 2015, in order to provide an overview of nearly 50 services vendors with significant digital experience delivery practices. These are all vendors that have experience helping firms strategize, design, implement, and optimize customer-facing web and mobile experiences. Over the course of this research we discovered:
Despite similar messaging, services vendors come from distinctive DNAs. Thousands of services providers have popped up, hoping to help firms solve these digital experience delivery challenges. But despite similar vendor promises that they can “solve it all” we found that firms come from a variety of different DNAs (e.g. technical services, global agencies, specialist agencies, consultancies) that reveal which types of initiatives they are best –fit to help solve. For example, technical services firms are often better suited for initiatives with heavy integration needs and large, complex global implementations.