"Want Loyalty? Get a dog."

Orbitztlc Is customer loyalty a marketing myth? Lester Wunderman thinks so. So does Randy Susan Wagner, CMO of Orbitz.  In her speech yesterday, she spoke about creating deep relationships with consumers, rather than building loyalty.

A few key points that stood out:

  • “The enterprise needs to become not just customer driven, but customer insight driven.”
  • “The more things (read technology) change, the more they stay the same.”
  • "Think like me” is a phrase Randy used to describe discovering a point of connection with your consumer. A human truth. 
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Transforming employees into brand advocates

Using employees to make your brand more customer centric emerged as a key theme in our Marketing Forum.  Cindy Commander, an analyst for Forrester's CMO Group, recently conducted some research in this area.  She Cindy noted that Bain found that 80% of companies believe that they're delivering a superior experiences to their customers, but only 8% of customers agree!  Employees are central to delivering a strong, consistent customer experience.  But only 26% of customer experience professionals think that employees share a vision of the customer.  So, there's a huge incentive to bringing employees into the brand.

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Making the best use of mobile

Mobile marketing.  It's new.  Some marketers are happy to experiment while others look on with skepticism until the channel matures.  Christine Overby and Charlie Golvin helped Forum participants navigate this new channel:  they're like peanut butter and jelly - Christine comes at mobile from the marketing side and Charlie approaches marketing from the mobile side.  Both believe that mobile is a viable marketing channel, but marketers need to embrace the warts in the mobile experience as features not shortcomings.

The crowd at the Forum, not surprisingly, is ahead of the curve in their use of mobile:  texting, mobile Internet, and applications.  But, Forrester data shows that only a third of mobile phone owners send or receive a text message, and only 11% use the mobile Internet.  What do early adopters look like? No surprise:  they're younger (almost 80% of 18-24 year olds use any form of messaging). Surprisingly and related to what I wrote earlier that the US was behind in their use of QR codes, use of the mobile Internet in the US and Europe is equivalent. 

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Kia Motors shows the heart of B2B marketing

Ian Bevis explained Kia's incredible growth in the auto industry and shared some humorous ads, but the more interesting story is the way they treat their relationship with dealers.  Kia needs to understand their dealers in addition to understanding their end customers because if the dealers don't sell their products, neither the Kia nor the dealers make money.  How do they build their relationships with dealers?  First, they understand dealers' primary motivation:  they're smart business people who want to make money.  Second, they leverage Kia's Web site:  e-leads are up, total traffic is up, and no surprise, sales are up, too.  Third, they shift employees around between the sales and marketing groups.  B2B marketing, like B2C marketing, needs to be an emotional proposition and needs grounding in knowledge of the customer.

Delivering Great Customer Experiences

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Principal Analyst Kerry Bodine provided the Forum audience this morning with an overview of what makes great customer experiences.  It requires employees with the right skills to build these experiences, processes to drive them forward, and an organizational culture ruthlessly focused around the consumer.

For marketers at companies just starting on a path towards customer-centricity, Kerry provided these first baby-steps:

1) Make this your mantra: “truly understand customer needs”

2) Look at your Web analytics log files

3) Listen to your customer service calls -- Find out what problems customers are reporting, and what kind of experiences they’re having with your call center.

4) Bring your customers in for usability testing -- this can be simple and informal

5) Observe your customers in the wild -- “channel you inner anthropologist”

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Key themes from day one

Last night after the Acxiom party, we (Elana, Harley, Cliff, Ross, and I) met to debrief all of yesterday's keynotes.  I had strong objections against including the "beer-a-mid," a reference to Pete's speech and the town of Wellesley's recycling program, in this morning's remarks, but after I went to bed, it appeared in the talk. Beeramid_2

So what should you remember?

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B2B marketers focus on customers, too

Eric Kintz shared how HP has transformed its organization to be more customer centric by focusing on three things:

  1. Integrating the customer to drive the business.
  2. Measuring and managing what matters to the customer.
  3. Inspiring employees to drive customer centricity.

These themes weave their way through all of today's presentations, but HP's added challenge of executing them in a B2B context shows that customer centricity is possible for all types of marketing organizations. They recognized a relationship between customer loyalty and business results, measured how they evolved over time, and focused investments on what mattered to customers. In addition to the relationship between customer loyalty and business results, HP also found a relationship with their sales partners and loyalty, so they established a closed-loop process to deal with customer feedback.  And they inspired employees by training all of them and building programs that allowed them to more easily share the customer feedback they received.

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Socializing the customer database

By Julie Katz - Researcher, Marketing, Forrester

Database marketing is officially sexy.  Once heavily technical and used only to support direct marketing programs, database marketing now helps brand marketers learn more about their target customers and build loyalty.  Aaron Cano of 1-800-Flowers and Elva Lewis of P&G joined Dave Frankland to discuss how their organizations make use of database marketing to further their business goals and deepen customer relationships.

P&G's 86 brands have traditionally operated independently through mass media to reach theoretical customers.  Now they're experimenting using "sticky" brands like Pampers and Iams to build community and attract loyal users to other relevant brands.  Lewis credits many sources for their success with data and change in mindset:  millennial marketers joining P&G, marketing partners like Merkle and Targetbase, and retail partners like CVS.

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Do You Need a Chief Customer/Experience Officer?

By Ross Popoff-Walker - Researcher, Customer Experience, Forrester

When does your firm need an executive position focused just on customer needs?  While improving customer experience is key to many companies, 57% of firms reported they lack a disciplined approach to managing their customer
experience. So while companies
have figured out the path, that experience is key, many have yet to figure how to walk the path. (And yes, we're evoking Morpheus from the Matrix here).

To Forrester VP Bruce Temkin the path is Experience-Based Differentation (EBD), which he defines as: "Interacting with target customers in a
manner that consistently builds loyalty." EBD focuses on three
principles:

  • Obsess about customer needs, not product features.
  • Reinforce brands with every interaction, not just communications.
  • Treat customer experience as a competence, not a function.

Jeanne Bliss, author of "Chief Customer Officer," joined Bruce for an open Q&A with the audience.  A few key takeaways:

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Measuring Success: Where to Start?

By Julie Katz - Researcher, Marketing, Forrester

Saying that measurement is important to marketers is an understatement.  Business decisions, even compensation, rely on the data marketers collect about customers.  Megan Burns and Christine Overby presented on what data marketers should collect, how to collect it, and how to make the best use of the data available.  Megan emphasized how important it is to measure what actually matters to customers rather than what marketers think customers care about.  As Pete Kim said in his keynote address, "easy to say, hard to do."  Megan outlined some initial steps:

First lay out the steps in your customer's lifecycle (and use personas you may have created since different customers have different needs).  Then use primary research to identify touch points and key attributes. Measure both from a customer and a business perspective.  But don't stop looking at that data once the design phase is complete:  keep using it to close the loop and measure how well you deliver on your goals.  And, use that data to improve your programs.

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