“Uber For X”: The X Doesn’t Stand For Experience

Deanna Laufer

An on-demand startup called Peach began delivering lunch to my office recently. Depending on the day, I can order mango chicken curry, mushroom tacos, or eggplant rollatini, and Peach will deliver it at lunch time for about 10 bucks.

I don’t know about you, but $10 a day for lunch is a bit steep — have you seen the cost of daycare lately? But when the only other option is a mediocre on-site cafe, Peach starts to look better by comparison and has great customer service: When a colleague’s lunch was stolen, Peach refunded her the money — no questions asked. I predict that Peach will succeed — at least at Forrester — because it provides the convenience that on-demand companies are known for, paired with great customer experience.

Unlike Peach, though, recent on-demand failures:

  • Didn’t understand their customers. Helloparking, a Boston startup for finding parking, failed despite multiple pivots. Upon reflection, the founders acknowledged that they “never defined clear hypotheses, developed experiments, and rarely had meaningful conversations with target end users.” What’s worse, they “rarely got out of the building.”
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How Do Your Organization's Omnichannel Capabilities Measure up?

Michelle Beeson

Omnichannel investments are at the top of digital business executive’s priority lists. UK department store John Lewis, among many others, is substantially increasing its capital investment in updating technology systems and operations to support omnichannel and in-store capabilities. But it is still early days for omnichannel commerce, which will be an ongoing initiative requiring continuous optimization. To help digital business executives understand how they currently measure up against peers and competitors, Forrester has published the new omnichannel commerce benchmark as part of the Omnichannel Commerce Playbook 2016. In this new benchmark, Forrester assess 20 leading retailers across the US and UK against omnichannel best practices across key categories – online experience, channel consistency, in-store pickup, and in-store experience.

Our key findings from the survey are:

  • US Retailers Tend To Score Higher In A Wide Spectrum Of Overall Scores. US retailer scores skew toward the higher end of the wide-ranging scores in this benchmark. US retailers' omnichannel capabilities have leapfrogged those of the UK, reflecting the context of US market competition and greater investment in supporting technology.
  • A Disconnect Between Touchpoints Remains. Even retailers with higher overall omnichannel scores still have a disconnect between touchpoints to address. Consistency of experience across all touchpoints and ensuring functionality is device-agnostic remain challenges.
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Your B2B Prospects Don't Want You To Call Them

Steven Casey

So this makes it official: the rite of passage for every new analyst. My first research report, How Self-Service Research Changes B2B Marketing, has just been published.

I covered the premise of this report in my first blog post — but I’ll summarize it here again: multiple Forrester surveys have shown that B2B buyers strongly prefer to conduct their own research, without ever speaking with a sales rep. Forward-thinking B2B marketers will embrace this change and enable the customer-directed research journey with self-service technologies such as contextual help solutions and virtual agents.

Many B2B marketers may feel that this is a risky move — giving up control and resisting the urge to email or call every prospect who lands on your site and guide them along a carefully crafted content path — but after more than a dozen conversations with vendors and their customers to create my report, I’m more convinced than ever that this is the right thing to do. This is true for lots of reasons, which I cover in the report, but the most important one is that we’re all digital consumers now. So the self-service habits we have all learned over the last decade or so are now preferred behaviors — even for B2B buyers, who now just want to be left alone to find the content they need.

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Velocity Mandates DevOps And Continuous Deployment

Robert Stroud

Today’s customers, products, business operations, and competitors are fundamentally digital. Succeeding in this new era mandates everyone constantly reinvent their businesses as fundamentally digital. You have two choices,

·      become a digital predator; or

·      become digital prey.

To compete in this new digital market norm, software applications and products must contain new sources of customer value while at the same time adopting new operational agility. I&O pros need to change from the previous methods of releasing large software products and services at sporadic intervals to continuous deployment. All must adopt key automation technologies to make continuous deployment a reality.

At Forrester, my colleagues and I (including the great Amy DeMartine) developed our recent TechRadar™: Continuous Deployment, Q2 2016 which look at the the top use cases, business value, and outlook of the 12 top technologies engaged in in continuous deployment.

Our key findings include:

Continuous deployment is critical to unlock velocity

In this new era of digital business, I&O pros must automate across the entire software delivery life cycle, creating the ability to continuously deploy while assuring service quality.

No Silver Bullet

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Navigating The New Insights Service Provider Landscape

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

“We are in the business of building [FILL IN THE BLANK], why would we build an insights platform out ourselves.” 

That sentiment will drive more and more companies to explore the insights services option.  Many already feel like they are chasing a moving target. Data and analytics practices are evolving quickly with new tools and techniques moving the bar higher and higher. Not to mention the explosion of data sources, and the dearth of skilled talent out there.  As executives become more aware of the value of data and analytics, they become increasingly dissatisfied with what their organizations can deliver:  in 2014 53% of decision-makers were satisfied with internal analytics capabilities but by 2015 those satisfied fell to 42%.  These are the leaders who will look for external service providers to deliver insights. They realize they might not get there themselves.

The sentiment expressed in the quote above was actually from a consumer packaged goods company.  For its execs winning in cities has become paramount.  As urbanization increases, cities provide big opportunities. But not all cities are alike and differentiating what they take to a specific market requires deep local knowledge – and a lot of diverse data.  To create hyperlocal, timely, and contextually relevant offers, the company needs data on local news, events, and weather as well as geo-tagged social data. All of that must be combined with its own internal and partner data.  

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Your Ticket To Driving More Value From Insights: Be A Master Communicator

Cinny Little

As a customer insights / analytics / digital measurement pro, do you experience any of these challenges?  And what can you do right now to make progress with them?

  •  I can’t keep up with requests from my stakeholders for analysis and insights.  Does the volume of requests and your team’s capacity seem increasingly out of whack in your organization?
  • Our customer data isn’t where we need it to be – we can’t get a comprehensive view of our customer.   You’re not alone.  Marketing and technology teams struggle to align objectives, roles, budget, projects and process, and timelines to maximize value from customer data.  Marketing decision-makers report several reasons they are failing: too many data sources (44%), lack of access to technology to manage data source integration (38%), lack of budget (35%), lack of skills to support integration (34%), organizational silos (27%), and lack of an executive sponsor (23%).
  • We’re leaving money on the table because our different analytics and insights teams work in silos.  Here’s a simple digital measurement example of this:  one digital team is responsible for driving visits to the website.  Other teams are responsible for maximizing on-site conversions.  They work in their own separate silos.  A more efficient and effective approach: work together to identify the characteristics of customers most likely to convert, and work on driving that group to the site.   That type of silo breakdown needs to happen more.
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EU Blocks Three's Takeover Of O2 And Leaves The UK Mobile Market In Limbo

Dan Bieler

After months of rumors, the EU finally decided to block the £10.5 billion takeover of Telefonica's O2 UK by Hong Kong’s CK Hutchison, the owner of Three UK. Brussels loves to shine as the white knight protecting UK consumers from higher prices and less choice. Yet, I believe the rollercoaster will continue.

But what does this prevented merger really mean for the UK telco market? What does it mean for business customers? And what does it mean for the telcos concerned? In my opinion:

  • UK consumers should expect the same dull mobile offers that they have been receiving for years. There are no signs that any telco in the UK market is about to radically rethink its offering along the lines of the T-Mobile US reset that John Legere kicked off several years ago after the T-Mobile/AT&T merger fell through. Rather, I expect more business-as-usual in the UK and no step-change in mobile broadband investments, and as a result, no great benefits for consumers to arise as a result of the merger blockage.
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Customer-Obsessed Leaders Do These Five Things: Do You?

James McQuivey

Five years into the age of the customer and it's clear that we're just getting started. More technology is coming — Amazon Echo, anyone? — and that doesn't even begin to touch on the stuff that will hit closer to 2020 and beyond: virtual reality, augmented reality, self-driving cars, and robot assistants.

I'm pleased to introduce my latest report: "Leadership in the Age of the Customer." This project is the result of months of work to update our view of the age of the customer, a 20-year business cycle in which power is shifting from businesses and institutions to end consumers. Technology, information, and connectivity are combining to instill in people a belief that they can have what they want, when, where, and how they want it. 

The key to emerging triumphant through all of this will be customer obsession. Organizations that put the customer at the center of their process, policies, and practices will successfully develop and deliver the experiences that hyperadoptive customers are ready to embrace. That will mean changing the operating model of the organization to be more customer-obsessed. It will also require that executives consciously lead the organization to customer obsession.

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Online Cross-Border B2C Sales Will More Than Double In The Next Five Years, Globally

Michael O'Grady

Forrester Data has just released its first global cross-border online retail forecast covering 29 countries worldwide, helping retailers understand the size and growth of the online cross-border market by country and region and identify the region-to-region flow of trade. Cross-border online B2C sales will more than double in the next five years to reach $424 billion in 2021, as consumers find online cross-border shopping easier, faster, and more convenient:

  • Cross-border shoppers in developing markets are increasing significantly. Metropolitan China in particular saw a large jump in its share of online buyers shopping across borders in 2015. Online cross-border buyer growth is strongest in developing economies: Latin America, Asia Pacific, Africa, and the Middle East will see double-digit compound annual growth over the next five years — significantly more than the growth in Europe and North America.
  • Marketplaces are increasing their share of cross-border sales. Cross-border shoppers prefer to use global marketplaces when they shop abroad. Alibaba increased its share of online sales from outside China. Online marketplace Rakuten reported 41% growth in cross-border sales in 2015, more than twice the growth of the domestic Japanese eCommerce market. In Germany, France, and the UK, more than half of cross-border buyers buy from Amazon and eBay. Amazon merchants’ cross-border sales doubled in 2014.
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Facebook Messenger: The Future Of Customer Service?

Ian Jacobs

This a guest post by Meredith Cain, a Research Associate on the Application Development & Delivery (AD&D) team.

As Francis Bacon wrote in 1625, “If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain.” Although he did not write this with Facebook Messenger or customer service in mind, the meaning still applies. If customers will not come to your business, your business must go to the customers. In 2016, customer service application professionals struggle to find common ground where businesses can fulfill as many customers’ needs as possible in a seamless and timely manner. With one out of every nine people on the planet already using Facebook Messenger, businesses should start to capitalize on this consolidation of customers by adopting Messenger, rather than attempting to move the “mountain.”

In our recent report, we argue that customer service application professionals should make plans to incorporate Messenger into their service arsenal. Facebook’s recent announcement of new Messenger tools that include business-friendly innovations, as well as Facebook’s already ubiquitous user base, positions Messenger to serve as the bridge between Muhammad and the mountain. As this metaphorical bridge, Messenger provides customer service pros with:

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