I just concluded six months of research looking at how firms plan strategy in the age of the customer. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I concluded that companies that fail to adapt to increasingly powerful customers, and disruptive competition, will not simply face near-term disruption — they risk their long-term viability.
I also found evidence of firms making changes in how they plan business strategy. High-performing companies look at strategic planning as a continuous process with a focus on customer value and loyalty.
In my latest report on strategy, I identify new responsibilities for CIOs, CMOs, and business-unit leaders in strategic planning. The report focuses on three ways CIOs and CMOs must step up and serve as a shaper of customer-obsessed business strategy that generates greater loyalty and drives better performance.
To succeed in the future, CIOs need to collaborate effectively with peers across the C-suite, especially the CMO and business-unit leaders, to build strategies and a shared business technology agenda, focused on customer outcomes.
Here are four tips from the research:
1. It's time to separate strategic planning from the annual budget cycle. Annual strategic plans hold firms back from quickly reacting to fast-evolving markets. While strategies must be funded, continuous test-and-learn approaches will more quickly reveal opportunities and weaknesses.
The relentless winter in Boston has finally come to an end! Encouraged by the lukewarm temperatures and sight of grass (which we haven’t seen here in months), I set my sights on a new pair of running shoes. Now, where to begin? I can get suggestions from my coworkers, peruse user reviews on my phone on the bus ride home, actually touch and feel the product in person at a sports shop nearby, watch video ads at home on my tablet . . . the list goes on.
The rise in the adoption of mobile devices has made the consumer purchase journey — which already involves multiple channels, devices, and interaction points — even more complex and fragmented. To help professionals understand how and why consumers use mobile devices along the multistep purchase path, we used Forrester’s Technographics® 360 methodology, which combines behavioral tracking data, online survey data, and market research online community responses. We found that:
Almost two-thirds of consumers still use traditional methods to first learn about products —offline sources commonly provide the first impression.
Smartphones enable customers to source pre-purchase product information right from the palm of their hand, but few actually make the purchase using a mobile device
Mobile devices give consumers flexibility if they choose to engage with a brand or retailer post-purchase —from email and text messages to online communities and social networks.
Have you ever sent money abroad and been shocked by the amount the recipient is left with? Why can’t you ever get anything close to the exchange rates advertised on the likes of xe.com?
As a customer, transferring money internationally is often a costly experience. Despite claims of no fees, the exchange rate spreads are often significant. That’s where P2P currency exchange comes in.
Startups such as CurrencyFair, Kantox, Midpoint and TransferWise hope to solve this problem by using the power of peer-to-peer networks to match customers, both individuals and small business, with one another to significantly reduce the cost of currency exchange.
By matching currency orders travelling in opposite directions, these platforms remove the need for money ever having to cross borders, thus avoiding costly international transfer fees. Thanks to low overheads, they also offer exchange rates at (or very close to) the midmarket rate that you see on xe.com. As you can see from Midpoint’s calculator below, the savings can be substantial.
If you’re interested in finding out more about this emerging sector - one that has been backed by the likes of Peter Thiel, Richard Branson, and Andreessen Horowitz - you can read mine and Oliwia’s new report here. The report, the latest in our ongoing series about digital disruption in retail financial services, answers the following questions:
Forrester forecasts that 1 million US B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to self-service eCommerce by the year 2020. B2B buyers now favor do-it-yourself online options for researching and buying products and services, and they are demanding that B2B sellers fully enable those digital paths to purchase.
Yet too many of today’s B2B companies still insist that B2B buyers interact with sales reps in order to complete a purchase. For a minority of customers who are buying complex and expensive products and services, talking to a sales rep can be a value-added experience. But for the majority of B2B buyers who are self-educating online about products and services, or who already know what they want, the diversion is inconvenient and unwelcome.
B2B companies that want to stay ahead of the curve must reshape their channel sales strategies and fundamentally rethink the role of their salespeople by:
Expanding the role of self-service eCommerce. The evidence is clear. Nearly 75% of B2B buyers now say that buying from a website is more convenient than buying from a sales representative. Further, 93% say that they prefer buying online rather than from a salesperson when they’ve decided what to buy. B2B companies that wait too long to create self-serve eCommerce websites risk losing share to pure plays and omnichannel competitors.
Forrester published a new report with highlights of changes among customer feedback management (CFM) vendors to give you the crucial insights you need to understand your CFM options. Why? Since the 2014 reports on the VoC vendor landscape and VoC vendor go-to-market strategies, we saw some big changes in the CFM market. Many changes are good news for CX pros who are looking to support their enterprisewide VoC and CX measurement efforts. But they don't make navigating this market any easier.
Key changes in the CFM market include:
Consolidation of established CFM vendors. CFM vendor Mindshare acquired Empathica in September 2013 and then relaunched the newly combined company in June 2014 under the name InMoment. Maritz Holdings acquired Allegiance and merged it with Maritz Research to launch MaritzCX in January 2015.
Entry of new CFM vendors. Clarabridge, formerly a specialist vendor that focused on text analytics, moved into the CFM category by adding significant capabilities to support all stages of the VoC cycle through a combination of an acquisition and native development. Qualtrics, formerly a survey platform specialist, entered the CFM category by adding capabilities to interpret unstructured feedback and act on VoC.
Forrester’s Security and Risk team will have a lot of analysts out once again for this year’s RSA Conference. After all these years (12 for me!) we have to balance our excitement to see old friends and colleagues with our cynicism that says it will be a week of empty buzzwords just slightly updated from those we heard last year.
We expect this to be mostly a fashion show – or what my old friend and colleague Rachel used to call the security industry’s debutante ball. We will hear far too many definitions for words like threatintelligence, platform, and integration; and we won’t hear the phrases case study examples, customer trust, or customer value nearly often enough.
But rather than dwell on our skepticism, here are a few things we’re excited about going into next week:
The Innovation Sandbox is always a highlight. Most of our team will come by to see the finalists on Monday, and you should look for our upcoming blog posts, tweets, and a report or two examining some of the vendors that have competed in this annual contest.
The expo dress code will be a whole lot classier. I’m personally glad to see RSA’s leadership with the new vendor dress code guidelines this year. (And kudos to our former colleague Chenxi Wang for her role in this change.) Hopefully that means everyone’s more focused on the substance of vendor messaging.
On a recent podcast with my colleagues Deanna Laufer and Sam Stern, I was asked about the difference between business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) customer experience (CX). My answer is what I believe is the problem that vexes CX professionals trying to establish CX programs in B2B firms: In a given account there isn't one "customer"; there are many stakeholders whose interactions with the firm must help them be successful in their work. This puts stress on the B2BCX organization -- how do you coordinate these many experiences to ensure each of these stakeholders gets the value they seek from the firm?
Retaining and delighting empowered customers requires continuous, technology-enabled innovation and improved customer insight (CI). The logic is simple in theory, but that doesn’t make it any easier to implement in practice.
In my recent report, entitled “Applying Customer Insight To Your Digital Strategy”, I highlight the top lessons learned from organizations in Asia Pacific (AP) that are successfully leveraging CI to fuel digital initiatives. It all starts by ensuring that data-driven decision-making is central to the digital strategy. With that in mind, I want to use this blog post to focus on two key lessons from the report:
Lesson One: Establish A Clear Mandate To Invest In Customer Analytics
Successful companies serve empowered customers in the way they want to be served, not the way the company wants to serve them. When building a mandate you should:
■ Expect natural tensions between various business stakeholders to arise. To secure buy-in from senior business decision-makers, start by illustrating the clear link between digital capabilities and data as a source of improved customer understanding. Identify measurable objectives and then link them to three to four scenarios that highlight where the biggest opportunities and risks exist. Continue to justify data-related investments by restating these scenarios at regular intervals.
HBO Now. Sling TV. CBS All Access. It seems almost every day we learn about a new deal or a new service that will continue to fragment the way consumers watch the content they love.
It’s also just one of the reasons I’m excited to hear from Comedy Central at this year’s Forum for Marketing Leaders - a brand that is actively traversing the fast-paced changes in the TV industry.
Walter Levitt is CMO at Comedy Central, and will join us on stage on Tuesday to discuss the evolution of the ‘multi-channel, multi-platform brand.’ In advance of his session, he sat down with me to talk about the effect of these changes on the Comedy Central brand.
Q. Comedy Central is rooted in a traditional linear cable channel, but (like many of your peers) is actively pursuing a multi-screen, multi-platform strategy. Do you think of Comedy Central as a TV brand, an entertainment brand, a content brand, or something else?
A. Comedy Central is a comedy brand. For our fans, we are their favorite “go to” whenever they are looking for a laugh. We have a strong 24-year history as a TV network, but over the last few years we've evolved our brand to ensure we are meeting the needs of our fans everywhere – and that obviously extends far beyond the linear TV screen.
Q. In building engagement, loyalty and audience, how do you balance the place of the Comedy Central brand vs. the brands of your individual programs, like the Daily Show or Broad City? How do you allocate investment, for example?