When I was 10 years old, I heard my father and my Uncle Bob talking about the car they’d most like to own. Noticing me, Uncle Bob asked, “How about you, Harley? What car do you want to drive when you grow up?”
I immediately answered, “A Mercedes!”
My father’s eyes widened as Uncle Bob replied, “You have excellent taste.”
Forty years later, Mercedes-Benz still symbolizes “excellent taste” for me and millions of other people around the globe. It’s not just about high quality: The Mercedes brand sets a standard of comparison; it’s shorthand for “great experience” and “luxury.”
And that’s why we’re so excited that Stephen Cannon, the president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, is our lead-off industry speaker at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East next week in New York. Cannon is just perfect as the keynote address for an event with the theme “Good Is Not Good Enough” — because for Mercedes-Benz, just being “good” would be a serious disappointment.
As we approach the event, Stephen was nice enough to answer some of our questions about the Mercedes-Benz customer experience. Check out what he has to say — and I hope we both see you out in the audience next week at the New York Hilton.
Q: When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?
Don’t you hate when a company advertises a product but fails to make it easy to find and buy?
Mad Men’s Don Draper, who, in the 1960’s could have been as likely to work in insurance as advertising (but the story would have been not nearly so interesting), would have a field day with the findings from Forrester’s just published report, “The Next Act For Usage-Based Car Insurance”, the first in a four-report series addressing the UBI landscape in the US, Canada,and Europe and the future of UBI.
Smart devices, smartphones, and smart cars are converging to create what should be a smart insurance choice for safe drivers and their insurers. The report examines American consumer interest and adoption of usage-based car insurance and the obstacles to purchase, many of which point directly to insurance eBusiness failings.
When Forrester last looked at the UBI market in 2008 (then termed “Pay As You Drive” or PAYD), consumers couldn’t get it because of a big distribution problem: It was offered by few insurers in just a few states. A couple of months ago, we decided to see just what had changed over the past five or so years when it came to consumer interest and purchase. What did we learn?
There are more than a few loyalty-esque proverbs that float around marketing departments and boardrooms everywhere: "repeat customers spend more," "it costs five times more to acquire a customer than to retain a customer," "80% of your revenue is driven by 20% of your customer base." If you are reading this blog post, chances are that you have uttered at least one of these phrases at some point in your career. But, if you've ever tried to put your money where your mouth is, you also know that achieving true customer loyalty requires strategic alignment, deliberate planning, and financial and cultural commitments. Loyalty is both behavioral and emotional, and companies that really want to compete for their customers’ loyalty need an evolved approach that extends beyond the program.
To help you understand where your loyalty strategy stacks up, Forrester has developed new self-assessments that examine loyalty from two points of view: the business' and the member's:
Mobile messaging apps are super-hot, but it’s still early days for monetization. WeChat, the largest mobile social platform in China, has been focusing on building a large user base globally and maintaining stickiness by upgrading its functionalities constantly. With the strong support of Internet giant Tencent, monetization is not an urgent concern for WeChat yet, but it has paved the way for many monetization options.
There are three options that could work well in monetizing WeChat:
Mobile gaming. Online gaming is Tencent’s best strength and the primary source of its revenue, so it’s natural for the Internet giant to want to transfer that strength to mobile. For example, when Tencent launched its first WeChat game, the Candy Crush-like Tiantian Ai Xiaochu, it soon became the most downloaded game in the app store. In-app purchases in games will become an important money generator for WeChat.
Mobile commerce and payments. Selling products on the WeChat platform is not new; last year, local smartphone brand Xiaomi sold 150,000 units in 10 minutes on WeChat. But with the successful launch of the new WeChat Payment service and its cooperation with JD.com, China's second-largest eCommerce player, mobile commerce and payments will soon become scalable on WeChat.
In the past three weeks, I’ve been in Hong Kong and Taiwan; several things that happened while I was there led me to think about their competitiveness in the age of the customer.
I was in Hong Kong to moderate three panels at a CIO summit. During a break, I chatted with a Singaporean CIO who’s been working in Hong Kong for 15 years but is thinking about moving back. We discussed the recent criticisms of mainland Chinese who allow their small children to pee by the curb of main thoroughfares. Hong Kong media and residents have been quick to criticize mainland parents without listening to their explanations that the city doesn’t have enough public toilets and that there are long queues at every shopping mall — hardly a surprise given that Hong Kong attracts more than 100 million visitors from mainland China each year.
Yesterday, I read that Hong Kong’s chief executive is considering limiting the number of mainland visitors to address local residents’ complaints. I wonder what impact passing such a bill would have on the city’s retail revenue growth, employment rate, commercial property prices, attractiveness towards global investment — even its economic freedom index ranking. As my CIO friend asked me: “Imagine what would happen if, for just one day, no mainland tourists came to Hong Kong. What impact would that have on Hong Kong’s retail, property, and financial markets?” I had no answer for that.
On to Taiwan: I was just in Taipei for a couple of days on business. I go to Taipei at least once a year, but this is the first time I’ve gotten the impression that Taiwan is really losing its attractiveness, despite the fact that I really love the city’s culture and food.
Forrester has written about enterprise marketing software (EMS) for almost a decade and in the course of that 10 years, there are a meager two things that have stayed the same: 1) the name and 2) the fact that we're talking about technology marketers use. Beyond that, the EMS space has undergone enough major change to be almost unrecognizable from earlier renditions. To that end, I just published a new/old report called "Let's Revisit The Enterprise Marketing Software Landscape (Again)" that builds on our existing years of research but offers a significant makeover to the categories and how we think about the components of the marketing software technology stack. Where used to put capabilities into four pretty traditional buckets — marketing management, brand management, relationship marketing, and online marketing — now we offer four new buckets, based on our contextual marketing research. The four new categories are interactions, analytics, insights, and automation.
In the report, I lay out what today's contextual marketer needs to do her much more complex job and therefore what she seeks in her technology. I also offer a lay of the land for a space that continues to change radically and rapidly. The report also highlights the core capabilities the vendors in each of the four categories provide today — and some of the areas on which they need to focus to really stand out for marketers.
Give it a read and then let me know what you think of our categories and how you're sourcing all of these capabilities in your marketing org today. Enjoy!
Contributed by Bryan Wang, Di Jin, and Vanessa Zeng
JD.com, the second largest online retailer in China, went public on May 22, listing itself on Nasdaq after merely 11 years of existence. At the time of IPO, JD had a market value of nearly $30 billion. Despite its size however, JD still managed to increase its customer base by 62% in 2013. How did JD manage to continually achieve business growth? I believe this is due to three key factors that differentiate JD:
■ Comprehensive logistics network for online retail in China. JD.com invested heavily in a last-mile strategy to ensure that customers receive products as quickly as possible, establishing 82 local warehouses with 1,620 delivery and 214 pickup stations across nearly 500 cities in China. This has made same-day delivery available in 43 cities — far ahead of the capabilities of Google Shopping Express in San Francisco. To better reach customers in lower-tier cities, JD is also collaborating with local convenience store chains in provinces like Shanxi and Guangdong to further strengthen its last-mile delivery capability.
A lot of the articles on this talk about why it "makes sense" (the typical after-the-fact justification that journalists do). Once you get past the dining puns in the headlines, you learn that the merger makes sense because Priceline sells mostly outside the US and OpenTable mostly within the US -- so they can target each other's customers. Or it makes sense because Priceline can sell restaurant reservations to its travelers.
These justifications are all true, but allow me to propose a different justification. Imagine for a moment that the world is undergoing a mobile mind shift -- and that mobile moments are becoming more valuable. OpenTable has dominated the restaurant reservation moment. You can be anywhere, decide to make a reservation, check reviews, and book a table in a moment. It's a perfectly suited task for an app, and the OpenTable app is perfect for it.
OpenTable has also cleverly embedded itself into restaurants -- many of them use its system to manage reservations, even as their customers use it to make reservations. I don't know if there is a restaurateur app from Open Table, but there ought to be. Why not manage the reservations on your mobile device as well?
From Time Warner and Comcast to AT&T and DirecTV, corporate mergers appear to be the latest tactic in winning the battle for market share and driving innovation. From a business perspective, the strategic advantages of such mergers may be clear — but what do these changes look like from the consumer’s viewpoint? To understand consumer reaction to the latest series of merger announcements, Forrester leveraged its Technographics360 approach of linking multiple data sources to give a holistic view of consumers. Specifically, we tuned into online chatter with our social listening platform and engaged our ConsumerVoices market research online community for this analysis.
According to the data, consumers associate mergers with increased costs, fewer opportunities for choice, and decreased product and service quality. While a few individuals appreciate the potential for innovation that mergers might afford, the prevailing sentiment is uncertainty:
The fact that individuals are wary of these corporate mergers partially stems from the timeless truism that “people are afraid of change.” To mainstream consumers, a large merger suggests a loss of customer control and greater uncertainty; according to the Harvard Business Review, these are the top two qualities that underpin a fear of change.
I’m returning from three days at Forrester’s Technology Management Forum in London. The theme was “Unleash Your Digital Business”, and a very public event on the first day hammered home the timeliness and relevance of the story.
Parliament passed the “Ordinance for the Regulation of Hackney-Coachmen”in 1654. London at that time would have been unrecognizable to the modern city-dweller. Over a decade before the Great Fire destroyed swathes of the medieval city. Almost 200 years before Charles Dickens immortalized the orphans, beggars and thieves of the smog-shrouded slums of the industrial revolution. But in essence, the act of hailing a taxi remained unchanged since that day.
You stand on a street, wave at a driver and take your chances.
And Hailo, and a number of other clones, but Uber is the main bone of contention here. Uber represents the future. It empowers consumers to make a choice, placing power in their hands, and removing it from the service provider. It’s a poster-child for the Age of the Customer. And London’s taxi drivers aren’t happy about it. I will stop short of debating the politics or legislative aspects here – suffice to say that London’s taxi drivers are so unhappy that an estimated 12,000 of them took to the streets on Wednesday to protest. It was messy. And tragically misguided.
The following day, three interesting things happened.