Not surprisingly, most executives whom Forrester surveys want their organizations to deliver a better customer experience and to become more customer-centric. But few organizations are achieving this aspiration: 82% of brands in Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) got scores of “OK” or worse by customers.
Stakes in the race for customer experience excellence are high: Each year, billions of dollars in revenues are in play, to be won or lost due to customer experience. Many organizations are at risk of losing customers and revenues to competitors and digital disruptors that can provide a better customer experience and respond more nimbly to changing customer needs.
Executives often ask Forrester how to deliver a better customer experience. I’ve summarized their most common questions and the answers that we base on our consulting work and research:
Q: What do you mean by “customer experience”?
A: Forrester defines customer experience broadly: It’s how customers perceive their interactions with an organization. These interactions range from their overall relationship to specific customer journeys and touchpoints, both digital and nondigital.
Q: Why does customer experience matter? How does it affect financial results?
Everyone I talk to has internalized the importance of improving customer experience delivery in the age of the customer. But in today’s hypercompetitive business landscape, and with ever-rising consumer expectations, actually delivering better experiences is a tall order. To help understand how companies are tackling this challenge, we’re conducting research on how some of the world’s smartest, busiest people are leading customer experience initiatives in their organizations.
We took great effort to create a survey that is frictionless and enjoyable that you should be able to move through quickly. And as a thank you, we’ll send you the survey results when they’re ready. In other words, for a small contribution of your time and insight, you’ll get a rich set of data on how your peers are tackling key CX challenges.
Key details are:
Survey open: April 19th - May 6th. But don’t delay, the survey will take about 10 to 12 minutes of your time to complete. Why not take it today?
Survey length. The survey has about 30 questions.
Topics covered. We cover CX team size, skills, responsibilities, budgets, and reporting structure.
Related research. We plan to use the data in a series of reports about CX teams, their roles, responsibilities, and budgets. We will also use it in research about how CX pros foster more customer-centric cultures, work with colleagues, and work with partners across their CX ecosystems to deliver better experiences.
Asking customers for feedback is one of the most direct ways to understand their experiences and needs across touchpoints. However, we’ve all experienced an organization’s attempt to execute this . . . usually poorly.
Surveys are too long. Callbacks are interruptive. What are they going to do with my feedback anyway?
Combatting these types of complaints is core to recent conversations with organizations who are establishing voice of the customer (VoC) programs. Some questions include: How do you ensure you are engaging with customers at the right time in the right channels, what is the main metric you are asking to ensure consistent data collection, and what is the best way to ask the question to encourage participation?
Recently I used Forrester's internal collaboration platform — Chatter — to collect stories about when colleagues were asked for feedback. I received a litany of the good, the bad, and the ugly of customer feedback designs. Below are the main takeaways from my internal and external conversations along with examples to consider as you think about the best way to collect information from your customers.
1. Make It Easy
Uber and a local food delivery service Peach make it easy to give direct feedback on a specific experience. They provide visual cues to remind customers what they are giving feedback on and a simple mechanism for providing it (a star rating). There are various ways of executing, including emojis (think Facebook’s recent updates) and scales (e.g., 1 to 5, 1 to 10). Any of these tactics work, as long as they align with your brand and are asked consistently across touchpoints. Both of these examples also provide an opportunity to give more feedback afterward to provide context to the rating.
As always each year, Huawei hosted its analyst event in April, with hordes of analysts descending on Shenzhen. Here are a few observations from the event:
In 2015, Huawei’s revenues grew by 37% to €61 billion and its EBIT grew by 34% to €7 billion, keeping the operating margin stable at just under 12%. Huawei’s strategy paid off across all of its divisions in 2015. Huawei’s Carrier Business pushed deeper into carrier transformation support and grew by 21% in 2015. Its Consumer Business operations entered the mainstream: The division grew by 73% in 2015, with Huawei gaining the No. 3 spot in the global smartphone league table. Huawei’s Enterprise Business is gaining traction and grew by 44% in 2015.
There are four distinctive aspects that go some way to explaining why Huawei keeps on outgrowing its peer group. First, Huawei’s heart beats in its R&D division, and most of Huawei’s top managers have come through the ranks of the R&D team. Second, Huawei benefits from strong internal collaboration and flexibility. Compared with other vendors, Huawei seems a lot less process-driven. Instead, Huawei seems to tolerate, even encourage, self-organization among employees — despite strict management hierarchies. Third, Huawei has a flexible and unconventional approach to customer experience. Huawei completes projects that overrun without overanalyzing whose fault it is. Fourth, Huawei is not listed and therefore not answerable to external shareholders. This gives it the freedom to experiment and take a long-term view.
In this, the age of the customer, the value of simplifying the customer’s journey seems abundantly clear. But what is sometimes left in its shadow – especially as B2B marketers work to better align sales and marketing efforts – is how to simplify the seller’s journey.
For the new report, “Simplifying the Seller’s Journey,” I spoke with sales enablement practitioners at various companies, with from ten to thousands of sellers, to investigate how they are simplifying the seller journey – including using various sales enablement automation solutions.
Their experiences point to some key points to consider when planning on how to implement seller-focused projects for content management, training, engagement tracking and more:
Know your sellers: The more you understand a day in their life and where you can remove obstacles the better.
Understand how sellers – not just prospects – engage with content: This will help not only marketers to better target content, but sales managers will be able to better coaching their teams.
Improved efficiency opens the door to effectiveness: B2B marketers can then measure how effective content and related sales actions can produce faster and larger sales.
That’s just the beginning – implementing solutions that are flexible and transparent so that they easily integrate with e-mail and your CRM helps ensure rapid adoption as well as rapid response to changes in your environment.
A couple of weeks ago, I was in Disney World for what's recently become an annual trip. I've always been a fan-- I spent most of my childhood in South Florida which means I was either going to love everything Disney or develop a deep aversion to it-- which makes it as nostalgic a vacation choice as it is a "magical" one.
If you're a Forrester client, you've seen Disney mentioned in research and speeches many times-- and for good reason. They're frequently on the forefront of innovation across the company, its products and brand extensions, all of which contributes to making it one of the country's most admired companies. As a consumer, these annual vacations give me a tangible glimpse into both the constant iterations of their digital commitment and the consistency with which they embrace and apply their brand promise. On the other hand, the experience also reveals just how difficult it can be maintain such a high standard once a brand has established it.
Here's what stood out this trip:
Disney continues to demonstrate its brand promise-- "magical" experiences abound
Digital disruption has hit retail financial services in Asia Pacific (AP). In 2014, fintech investments in AP totaled US$880 million and skyrocketed to a staggering US$4.5 billion last year. Just as payments innovation has been a darling of venture capital investors in the US, the picture is not so different in AP as payments took the largest share of fintech investment deals at 40%. This is followed by lending at 25%. However, the next frontier of disruption doesn't lie in payments and lending. FF16, AP's first fintech competition, featured an array of fintech finalists offering a wide array of capabilities that signal what is to come in digital disruption in financial services.
We observe that the next frontier of digital disruption for the financial services sector will take place in investment, security and authentication as:
Data access, predictive analytics, and machine learning drive investment innovation. Exploding volumes of data are driving new, disruptive products and services in retail financial services. While predictive analytics isn't new, it has now entered the mass market, becoming more ubiquitous to retial investors. Smaller, nimbler players such as 8 Securities are now using algorithms to help customers derive insights from data, making predictive analytics more affordable and accessible. There are also B2B fintech companies such as BondIT and ShereIT that help financial advisors and brokers maximize their clients' portfolios.
Most enterprises aren't fully exploiting real-time streaming data that flows from IoT devices and mobile, web, and enterprise apps. Streaming analytics is essential for real-time insights and bringing real-time context to apps. Don't dismiss streaming analytics as a form of "traditional analytics" use for postmortem analysis. Far from it — streaming analytics analyzes data right now, when it can be analyzed and put to good use to make applications of all kinds (including IoT) contextual and smarter. Forrester defines streaming analytics as:
Software that can filter, aggregate, enrich, and analyze a high throughput of data from multiple, disparate live data sources and in any data format to identify simple and complex patterns to provide applications with context to detect opportune situations, automate immediate actions, and dynamically adapt.
Forrester Wave™: Big Data Streaming Analytics, Q1 2016
To help enterprises understand what commercial and open source options are available, Rowan Curran and I evaluated 15 streaming analytics vendors using Forrester's Wave methodology. Forrester clients can read the full report to understand the market category and see the detailed criteria, scores, and ranking of the vendors. Here is a summary of the 15 vendors solutions we evaluated listed in alphabetical order:
Clients tell us they are resistant to SaaS because of SaaS vendors’ unwillingness to offer unlimited liability. Sound familiar? It’s time to stop holding SaaS vendors to a higher standard than the alternative. Consider this: In-house systems do not offer unlimited liability. Very few non-SaaS vendors offer unlimited liability.
Say what? You did get unlimited liability? If your vendor does offer unlimited liability, beware. Small vendors are all too happy to sign up for things in the contracts. But, it’s hard to get them to pay up in the event of a serious incident. More likely, you’ll end up spending a lot of time in court and find there’s no money for them to pay out. Be cautious when you see this because it rarely will do you much good and it may be a sign that the vendor is taking on deals that are unsustainable in other ways, too – which makes them a vendor viability concern.
What should you do? Instead of honing in on the legal language of liability, ask for some reasonable yet meaningful liability (such as 2 years’ worth of fees) and focus the rest of your energy on due diligence and pushing for transparency. Check out the vendor’s processes, policies, and third-party certifications. Approach this more as a risk assessment than a contract negotiation, working closely with your security and risk team (or partners). Also, look for signs of transparency. Leading SaaS vendors put out a lot of information about security, performance, and other key metrics. They foster a culture of openness and transparency.
Finally, keep in mind that a SaaS vendor will die off if they have a poor track record. That pressure generally keeps them more focused on delivering great service than a legal contract does.
This tends to be a contentious topic, and I’d love to hear perspectives and experiences.
BuzzFeed's supposed to be the media company that holds the answer to the media business's future in a post-banner world. While the media world is dying, BuzzFeed's been hiring, growing to new markets, winning new investment on high valuations and projecting hockey stick sales growth.
But worrying signals that BuzzFeed was struggling were confirmed in an article by Financial Times, which cited a miss on 2015's revenue target and a halving of 2016's target. To this, BuzzFeed's chairman said "There's nothing cratering in the industry. It's better than ever." Meanwhile, he offered no evidence to the contrary, reminding this analyst of:
Counter to Lerer's assurances and in line with FT's findings, there are some pretty good reasons BuzzFeed may be missing its numbers. I'll present them in true BuzzFeed listicle style (all gifs credited to giphy.com). Here goes:
1) BuzzFeed's tried to position itself and its expected revenue as a software play, but it's just....not.