Peter Kim's Keynote: The Reality of Being Customer Centric

Photo by Josh Hallet

Peter Kim, being Peter Kim, gave an outstanding keynote on the Forrester Conference theme, the Customer Centric Marketing Organization. Pete keeps it real by noting that there is frequently a reality gap between the words customer centric marketing and companies that actually are customer centric. A company needs to build their entire culture around customer advocacy to make this a reality. Forrester's definition of customer advocacy Pete says is, " The perception that a firm does what's best for the customer, not just what's best for the bottom line."

The first step towards a culture of centricity is to accept the reality that you don't own the Brand, the customer does. Although this has always been true, in a social media world, acceptance is a necessity. Peter highlighted several organizations as examples of customer centricity:

USAA tops the Forrester list as well as Business Week's ranking of organizations that understand customer service.

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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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Personas Are For Everyone

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

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Principal Analyst Moira Dorsey lead a break-out session today on the use of personas for marketing. She was joined by Glenn Drummond from Quarry Integrated, and Net Payne of Nortel, who worked together on a sales enablement tool for Nortel called "Coach." The tool is a set of web-based personas which allows sales people to quickly isolate key
info about their target consumers to feed into their efforts.

At the most basic level a persona is a vivid description of a key target user, based on rigorous research of real people. What Nortel's Coach shows is that personas have a variety of applications outside their design-centric origins.  And there are other examples: Best Buy used personas to craft an in-store experience.  SAP usesd personas for the design of call center software.  What different ways have you found for utilizing personas?

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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Forrester's CEO Hip With Mobile Marketing

In his welcome to the crowd of 600 marketers, sponsors, and guests at the Marketing Forum, Forrester CEO George Colony showed that he understands the power of technology for marketing.  "The last frontier," George said, "is the connection of the physical world to the digital world."  He illustrated with the use of QR codes in JapanWikiqr has put marketing in the palm of consumers' hands.  The US isn't as advanced in its use of mobile bar codes or mobile marketing in general -- mobile marketing is the wild East, so to speak.  Mobile marketing presents a challenge both on the technology integration front and on the customer-centricity front because of the incredibly personal nature of the device.  Christine Overby

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Marketers = Experience Integrators

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

Sylvia Reynolds faces a unique challange as Wells Fargo's CMO. "We have the opportunity to delight or disappoint our customers in moments of trust every day," she said. And there are a lot of opportunities for Wells Fargo, who receives 250 million phone calls to its call centers each year.

But how do you create delight in a world that is divided into 80+ silos, and justify organizational change when each silo is hugely successful? "Paradox is possible," said Sylvia, meaning that while the 150+ year old Wells Fargo might be financially booming, that doesn't mean it's providing a consistently strong customer experience.  Her recommendations:

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The Customer Rules

Gary Skidmore, Corporate Officer and Executive Vice President at Harte-Hanks shared some tangible examples of companies that embody customer centricity.  Skidmore emphasized that companies should make their customers "fanatical" about their brands.  Whose customers are fanatical?  Starbucks:  customers, who are treated as individuals with the ability to customize their drink orders, were in a tizzy over the company's Make It Your Drink promotion where they could get their drink order printed on a custome T-shirt.  Apple:  iTunes users also thrive on customization.  Like custom-designed snowflakes, no two playlists are the same, and Skidmore treasures the playlist his daughters created for him.  But customization isn't the only way to put customers in the driver's seat.  How else then?  Skidmore showed that focusing on employee satisfaction leads to customer satisfaction.  Companies like Goog

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Sony's Customer Centric (Re)organization

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

What does SpiderMan 3 have to do with customer-centricity?  A lot if you’re Sony Electronics CMO Michael Fasulo, who spoke today on the mainstage with Senior Analyst Brian Haven. That’s because Sony’s large, global family of diverse brands, from Vaio to Sony Pictures, presents an organizational hurdle towards customer centricity.

“The successful brands of this 21st century will be only those brands that can truly execute a customer centric model,” said Fasulo. And he isolated two curtail elements for achieving this success: 1) changing the company culture, first and foremost, and 2) leveraging the Total Brand.

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