Over the past few months, following publication of my "Customer Insights Center of Excellence" report , there’s been a significant uptick in questions by insights and analytics teams who want to talk to us about CoEs. That’s a positive sign that firms are feeling the crunch to get more value from their insights functions. What’s the evidence for that conclusion? What can we learn from who’s asking about insights CoEs? And most importantly, what really matters in how you organize?
Before we dig in to answers, let’s set the bar on what “great” looks like in truly customer obsessed organizations: they use data for insights to improve customer experience that matters most to business outcomes. As my colleagues James McCormick, Brian Hopkins, and Ted Schadler write in their recent report, "The Insights-Driven Business," customer obsessed businesses act on insights in closed loops, at speed, and at scale in all parts of the firm. They embed analytics and testing directly into operating teams. And, firms who implement these approaches run faster and fleeter than you. The pressure is on from insights-driven organizations.
Charles Dickens once wrote that: “Change begets change. Nothing propagates so fast.” In today’s evolving marketplace, where innovators are setting new customer expectations and companies are racing to meet rising demands, Dickens’ words ring true. The first step on a company’s path to thriving in this environment is understanding customers accurately – specifically, identifying how consumer expectations are changing and how fast.
Our Empowered Customer Segmentation measures critical shifts in customer behaviors and attitudes to gauge how consumers are both responding to innovation and demanding it. While the segments are globally consistent, we see insightful differences when applying the framework to unique markets. For example, Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows how the segments differ between Spain and France:
These country differences reveal unique opportunities and challenges for companies aiming to win or retain customers in Europe. For example, forward-looking brands such as Banco Sabadell and BBVA can engage Progressive Pioneers in Spain to test innovative concepts before planning a broader rollout. On the other hand, brands with large proportions of French Settled Survivors or Reserved Resisters can retain customers by convincing them of the effectiveness of an experience.
I was talking last week with Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek, VP, Global Marketing at The Weather Company as we continue to prepare for the B2B Marketing Forum in October where Michelle is one of the industry guest speakers. The business solutions (B2B) division of The Weather Company, an IBM Business, provides weather and related data-driven products and services to more than 5,000 clients in industries including media, aviation, energy and utilities, retail, insurance, and government.
Peter: What two or three B2B marketing improvements over the past year are you most proud of? Why?
The explosion of TV channels, on-demand content and OTT services continues to erode audiences. On the whole, Forrester’s Technographic data shows that consumers in EU5 countries (UK, FR, DE, IT, SP) watch on average as much TV in 2016 as they did in 2014. But the split is shifting in favor of online TV, in particular among millennials which will become increasingly difficult to reach through conventional linear TV media plans.
The fragmentation of TV content across sources shrinks audience sizes, and makes TV planning inefficient. Programmatic TV could be the answer to cross-screen, audience based planning, but the road is long and paved with obstacles. Programmatic buying is penetrating pockets of broadcaster inventory, but the level of implementation varies across countries, across broadcaster and across inventory type. The big question, of course, is whether programmatic ever makes it to linear TV advertising and becomes a viable tool to plan TV campaigns.
What is often missing from this discussion is the journey TV broadcasters have embarked on to collect and activate audience insights across their properties, and the wealth of data that is already available to test or experiment with audience-based buying within their inventory.
In the “European Marketers Get Ready For Data-Driven TV Planning" report, I break down how various TV / video inventory types will transition to different forms of programmatic over time, and explain why marketers will not have to wait for programmatic to infuse data intelligence into their TV media plans. Read the report to find out commonly missed opportunities in terms of audience optimization in TV planning.
We’ve all heard the idea so much it is now approaching hackneyed cliché: technological-driven disruption can—or will—hit every industry. Uber and Lyft have monkeyed around with the fundamental order of the taxi and livery business. 3D printing threatens manufacturing. And so on and so on. The result of all this disruption: customer experience has become the one true differentiator left to most companies. At the same time, companies have begun to wake up to the idea that customer service is a critical component of overall customer experience. Dimension Data reports that 83% of companies view the contact center as a competitive differentiator, up 30% since 2012.
So, customer service has become a crucial competitive differentiator and in response companies have started to experiment with emerging technologies like cognitive computing, bots, augmented reality, and video chat. But shrewd companies have also recognized that the tools they use to manage and optimize the performance of their customer service organizations can also drive the competitive differentiation they need to thrive. Customer service application pros see workforce optimization (WFO) tools as the fuel that drives customer service organizations. Additionally, in particularly hot areas such as speech, text, and desktop analytics, customer service pros see the ability to not just improve their own team’s performance, but also drive broader business transformation. By deriving insights from actual customer interactions, these tools can help not just customer care, but also marketing, sales, operations, field service, accounts payable, and pretty much any other corner of the enterprise.
Throw open the boardroom doors. Videoconferencing is making a dash to to the huddle room, your desktop, and the cloud. In Forrester’s new Vendor Landscape: Videoconferencing Platforms we look at videoconferencing market trends and the 15 vendors that support the space.
Videoconferencing is a must have for employee experience. It drives hard cost savings with travel reductions and decreased time to market and soft savings with employees--particularly remote workers--who are more engaged. Global software decision makers aren’t in the dark about the benefits of videoconferencing as its implementation has been outpaced only by IP telephony.
There are three key reasons that have driven videoconferencing out of the boardroom including:
It's not about whether brands have value. It's about how to manage the value.
Twilight Of The Brands
In early 2014, our profession faced an existential crisis. The end was near, said James Surowiecki, in his New Yorker article, "Twilight Of The Brands." Look at Lululemon, he cried. The cult-like athletic wear brand was reeling from product failure and leadership indelicacies. And he referenced new research that said consumers were "supremely well informed," and did not need to "rely on logos" to determine value.
In The Pink Of Health
Turns out Surowiecki wasn't so well informed after all:
More is not better. It is true that the digital age brings with it more information about brands. More than many would care for, really. And therein lies the rub – this tsunami without filter or curation does little to clarify and more to confuse.
Brands signify more than information. The idea of brand as a signal of value is valid, although simplistic. More information may bridge quality and trustworthiness gaps, but a brand is much more. It conveys an emotional connection. Information plays no role in sipping a Coke or running in Nike.
Forrester conducted another successful conference last Friday, September 1, at our Customer Experience (CX) Marketing Shanghai 2016 Forum.With insightful content, influential industry speakers, and great event organization, we are grateful for the excellent feedback that we received from the delegates who were present.
A total of 190 CX and marketing professionals attended this event, joined by 23 Forresterites from all over the globe. As the event host, I was approached by many attendees during the networking breaks and at the end of the event who unanimously expressed their appreciation and their willingness to work with Forrester for their CX initiatives. CX, though in its early stage in the China market, is getting traction from senior leadership in many organizations, and Forrester is definitely at the forefront of CX research in challenging thinking and leading change.
Forrester analysts and our distinguished guest speakers shared their insights into the following topics with the audience:
Innovation. From the latest digital trends to design thinking, companies now have access to an arsenal of methodologies and tools to improve their CX and drive sustainable business growth with CX excellence.
Social. Social media is indeed an integral part of our lives, and CX and marketing pros ought to leverage it to take their CX to the next level. Speakers from Tencent, IHG, Decathlon, and Social Touch showcased their thought leadership in this area and demonstrated that social media can help up your game and generate tangible results.
Today’s business marketers and their prospects are engaged in a frustrating content “dating” game. To get the content they want – and avoid the inevitable follow-up sales call or nurturing emails – more and more buyers are populating your gating forms with false, incomplete, or non-business information. They get the whitepaper, but all you get is another useless “lead.”
To assess the current state of content gating and uncover innovative solutions to this problem, we reviewed 35 B2B websites and interviewed 15 B2B marketing practitioners across four industries, the results of which are available in my latest report, entitled Unlock Content Gates To Support Self-Educating Buyers. Here are a few of the high points:
Gating practices vary across industries, but the pendulum is clearly swinging back to more open access. The early adopters of content marketing have learned the hard way that too many forms too early in the buyer’s journey do more harm than good.
Business marketers have reached a consensus on what content to gate and not gate. The dividing line is determined by the buyer’s need and purpose, whether they are in education mode or seriously evaluating your offering.
To improve the buyer’s experience, innovative marketers are experimenting with progressive profiling, personalizing content based on form data, augmenting minimalist forms with third-party data, and even profiling anonymous site visitors before they fill out a form.
Companies of all stripes are getting bot happy, rolling out bots for third-party platforms like Facebook Messenger, Kik, WeChat, Slack, and more. Firms like Yahoo, H&M, KLM Airlines, and others use these chat bots — software built to simulate human conversation and to help consumers complete tasks — in an effort to better win, serve, and retain customers.
A few banking providers are beginning to dip their bank-shaped toes into the bot space: Capital One allows customers to take actions like paying bills via Alexa on Echo devices; Bank of America has announced plans to roll out a bot on Facebook Messenger; and numerous Chinese providers offer banking services via WeChat.
But while a few banks are in a position to experiment, digital business executives at most banks must decide whether to use precious resources to build or buy a chat bot offering. Forrester’s brand-new research report argues that most of these executives should hold off on launching chat bots for messaging platforms. This is because:
Today’s bots often lead to uneven — or worse — experiences for customers. In our research, we found many instances where a chat bot offered a quick and effective answer to a consumer’s question; however, about one-third of the time, existing chat bots either failed to complete the consumer’s request or provided a clunky, awkward experience.