The Customer Success Vendor Ecosystem Shows Signs Of Consolidation. Zuora Acquires Frontleaf

Kate Leggett

Our world is quickly moving to a subscription economy. In a subscription economy, the economic value of a customer is realized over time, instead of up-front at the initial sale. This means that the duration of the customer relationship has an increasingly large economic impact on the company’s financial health. Being successful in this new economy requires that companies actively manage their customers during their engagement relationship to ensure that they are realizing the economic value of their purchase.  Why? Because if you don't, customers churn. 

A new organizational role, called customer success, has emerged which is dedicated to actively managing the post-sale journey that a customer has with a product or service that they have bought. One measure that customer success organizations use to track a customer's success is a "health score." The health score is a composite number created from product usage data (who's using the product, how is the product used), customer interaction data (support tickets, customer feedback) and contractual data. This data is pulled from systems like CRM, ERP, billing, customer survey solutions. It is tracked at a user and company level and the way it trends, and sudden changes to the score are used to understand a customer' health.

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Gainsight's Pulse Conference Underlines The Importance Of Customer Success In A Subscription Economy

Kate Leggett

I attended Gainsight’s Pusle conference on customer success, held in San Francisco, on May 12 and 13. This conference, which focused on the economic value of customer success, actionable customer success best practices and insight from customer success practitioners, drew over 2000 attendees across 20 countries. This was more than double the size of last year's conference. The speaker list read like a who’s who in the world of young B2B SaaS companies: Apttus, Box, Zuora, Yelp, Satmetrix, MindTouch, Zendesk, Influitive, InsideSales, Docusign, Atlassian amongst others, as well as more established companies such as SAP,  ATT, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Workday. It also drew a long list of VC luminaries including Roger Lee from Battery Ventures, Jason Lemkin from Storm Ventures and SaaStr, Tomasz Tunguz from Redpoint Ventures and Ajay Agrawal from Bain Capital Ventures,. 

So why the interest in customer success? 

  1. Our world has moved to a subscription economy. Categories like media and entertainment and telecommunications have fully embraced this model. Other industries like  publishing, computer storage, healthcare, are moving in this direction. This shift is most notable in B2B software.  
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Get your customer service ready for the digital-first generation

Ian Jacobs

This is a guest post by Danielle Geoffroy, Research Associate on the AD&D team who helps with our customer service and unified communications research.

Do you hear that swooshing sound of a tweet being sent in the middle of a Google Hangout? It’s faint, but strong, and it means they’re coming.  Generation Y—a generation raised entirely in a technology-driven world.  This new breed of consumers demands more from companies and government agencies, with particularly high expectations for friction-free customer experiences. They’re prepared with knowledge of your company, and your top competitors. In fact, they often have more information about you and your products than your own employees.

This new generation should matter to you, because by 2018, the millennials will surpass the spending power of baby boomers. Remember: there is a dollar value to every positive and negative Yelp review, tweet, and Facebook status they target at you. With so much information at consumer’s fingertips, there is some give with the take. People don’t want to retain all of the information they receive on a daily basis. Striking a balance between the knowledge of your customers, and the methods deployed by your customer support agents, will lead to an enjoyable service experience, and keep you far away from the dreaded viral video of a support request gone wrong.

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Seeing is believing for financial services firms as they increasingly embrace video as a sales and service channel

Art Schoeller

When we think of obstacles financial services firms need to overcome in order to win, retain, and serve customers, one of the largest ones that come to mind is trust and transparency.  For financial services firms these attributes are key to boosting deeper customer engagement with wealth management clients and grow share of wallet in retail banking.

Those that have successfully done this in the past need to adapt to the mindset and needs of the modern digital customer.   In our recent report, we explore the effectiveness of using varying video channels to not only pull customers in, but build the relationship of the financial partner. “Hey, we’re in this together” is what we all want to hear from the person holding our money, right?

Three ways financial firms are finding customer success through video:

1.       Instant access to a human. One of the realities with serving the modern consumer is that they will want immediate access to you, and sometimes a quick balance check is not going to cut it.  Consider deploying a video chat solution for your high net worth customers.

2.       Assure them of your knowledge and understanding of the market. Your customers don’t know what they don’t know, that is why they are turning to you.  A best practice video on choosing the right home insurance policy creates the empathy people crave, much more than a text filled webpage.

3.       Brand videos.  Financial firms know our cousin’s husbands name.  Showing us what you are about, what your values and promises are, create a valuable but often lost connection with the customer.

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Here Come The Insights Ecosystem (s)

Ted Schadler

In doing research on why big data is not enough and customer insights teams are disconnected from business operations, Brian Hopkins and I came across three hugely important things happening:

  1. Firms are adopting systems of insight -- insights teams with business, data, and developer skills using an insights-to-execution process and taking advantage of a new insights architecture. This is what our new big idea report is about.
  2. Service providers are building insights practices with reusable technology, reusable insights models (including some with cognitive capabilities), and reusable engagement models for an industry or business function. Deloitte Digital and now IBM specialize in this, but many other service providers are recrafting their analytics practices to jump in.
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Expand Your Big Data Capabilities With Unstructured Text Analytics

Boris Evelson
Beware of insights! Real danger lurks behind the promise of big data to bring more data to more people faster, better, and cheaper: Insights are only as good as how people interpret the information presented to them. When looking at a stock chart, you can't even answer the simplest question — "Is the latest stock price move good or bad for my portfolio?" — without understanding the context: where you are in your investment journey and whether you're looking to buy or sell. While structured data can provide some context — like checkboxes indicating your income range, investment experience, investment objectives, and risk tolerance levels — unstructured data sources contain several orders of magnitude more context. An email exchange with a financial advisor indicating your experience with a particular investment vehicle, news articles about the market segment heavily represented in your portfolio, and social media posts about companies in which you've invested or plan to invest can all generate much broader and deeper context to better inform your decision to buy or sell. 
 
But defining the context by finding structures, patterns, and meaning in unstructured data is not a simple process. As a result, firms face a gap between data and insights; while they are awash in an abundance of customer and marketing data, they struggle to convert this data into the insights needed to win, serve, and retain customers. In general, Forrester has found that: 
 
  • The problem is not a lack of data. Most companies have access to plenty of customer feedback surveys, contact center records, mobile tracking data, loyalty program activities, and social media feeds — but, alas, it's not easily available to business leaders to help them make decisions. 
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Digital Insights Are the New Currency of Business

Ted Schadler

All the big data technology in the world won't close the gaps between data and action. One global bank told us, "even with all the capabilities and tools in place, we are drowning in data and starving for insight."

To harness the power of all your data to attract and serve customers -- to be a digital business -- you also need a new way of consistently harnessing insights that matter: insights teams using an insights-to-execution process anchored by a new digital insights architecture. We call this combination of people, process, and technology "systems of insight" (see Figure 1).

Brian Hopkins and I just released a Forrester report called "Digital Insights Are the New Currency of Business" for CIOs. I've never worked harder or longer on a 16-page document: one year, 75 drafts, and help from 25 colleagues spanning business, marketing, data, and technology.

What we found is that successful firms go beyond big data and business intelligence practices to build the business discipline and technology to harness insights and consistently turn data into action. This approach works by linking business actions back to data and discovering and testing insights to take action (see Figure 2).
 
Systems of insight embody five essential advances over previous approaches:
 
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Is Your Dream Digital Experience Services Partner Out There?

Anjali Yakkundi

Today, it is vital for companies to understand and connect to every moment of the digital customer journey. But for most organizations, there are so many delivery challenges that they can’t do it alone:  84% of companies we surveyed use agencies and/or system integrator partners to help deliver digital customer experiences.

Choosing the right services firm takes some match-making magic: the partnership can either end up as a happy marriage or end in bitter divorce. In order to help Forrester clients, we recently released our report, Market Overview: Digital Experience Services Providers 2015, in order to provide an overview of nearly 50 services vendors with significant digital experience delivery practices. These are all vendors that have experience helping firms strategize, design, implement, and optimize customer-facing web and mobile experiences. Over the course of this research we discovered:
 

  • Despite similar messaging, services vendors come from distinctive DNAs.  Thousands of services providers have popped up, hoping to help firms solve these digital experience delivery challenges. But despite similar vendor promises that they  can “solve it all” we found that firms come from a variety of different DNAs (e.g. technical services, global agencies, specialist agencies, consultancies) that reveal which types of initiatives they are best –fit to help solve. For example, technical services firms are often better suited for initiatives with heavy integration needs and large, complex global implementations.
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Apple Watch -- Bliss or Bling? Glanceable Moments Will Decide

Ted Schadler

Our 2014 Technographics survey of 4,575 North American consumers reveals that 40% of smartphone owners are "tired of pulling my phone out of my pocket." No wonder. Smartphones have become an extension of our psyches -- our confidence and our strength, our entertainer and our assistant. We look at them sometimes 100s of times a day in our mobile moments of need. How many of those moments can shrink down to wrist size?

We're about to find out. Apple is shipping its Apple Watch today. Millions of people will buy them. But will it be bliss or bling? Will people will still be wearing an Apple Watch six months from now? And will word spread so it shows up in the holiday gift list of millions more consumers?

Source: Forrester Research, Inc.

I believe that Apple Watch can succeed and even has a chance to make geeky watches cool. But only if app designers and developers master a new kind of mobile moment we called glanceable moments or micro moments.

Here's a rule of thumb: people will stare at a desktop screen for 3 minutes. They will spend 30 seconds on their smartphone. But they will spend only 3 seconds with a watch app. That's a glanceable moment: 3 seconds to communicate vital information, deliver a service, or help someone take action.

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Contact Centers Must Go Digital Or Die

Kate Leggett

Customers are impatient with poor service. They want an accurate, relevant, and complete answer to their question upon first contact so they can get back to what they were doing before the issue arose. Forrester data shows that 55% of US online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question.77% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service.

It's no surprise that our recent survey data shows that customers of all ages are increasingly using self-service channels (web, mobile, IVR)  for a first point of contact for customer service. In fact, for the first time in the history of our survey, respondents reported using the FAQ pages on a company's website more often than speaking with an agent over the phone. Self-service gives you that "pain-free" or effortless experience that consumers want. Customers escalate the harder questions to a live agent - whether its chat, email or a phone agent - and these calls become opportunities to help build stronger relationships with your customers to garner their long-term loyalty.

But contact centers are not delivering to expectations. We find that:

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