Q&Agency: Universal Mind

Welcome to Q&Agency! Each week, I get to talk to agencies small and large and get to hear (in their words) what differentiates them and the experiences they create. To help bring some of that information to you, I'm showcasing an ongoing series of interviews with small to mid-size interactive and design agencies. If you'd like to see your agency or an agency you work with here, let me know!

On May 18th, I talked with Brett Cortese, CEO, and Erik Loehfelm, Director of User Experience, of Universal Mind. Edited excerps from that conversation follow.

Forrester: Tell me a little bit about your agency?

Brett: Universal Mind is an award winning digital solutions agency. We work with our clients to create best in class solutions that deliver an exceptional user experience while overcoming complex technical challenges across a wide variety of devices. That’s going to include the browser, desktop, tablet, connected appliances, all those types of things. Our focus is on the enterprise; we have a very deep understanding of how to expose complex systems and processes in an engaging and effective way.

We have a team of over 100 strong, spread out through the United States. That includes offices in San Francisco, California; Golden, Colorado; Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Westfield, Massachusetts.

Forrester: What is your elevator pitch?

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Q&Agency: Roundarch

Welcome to Q&Agency! Each week, I get to talk to agencies small and large and get to hear (in their words) what differentiates them and the experiences they create. To help bring some of that information to you, I'm showcasing an ongoing series of interviews with small to mid-size interactive and design agencies. If you'd like to see your agency or an agency you work with here, let me know!

On May 5th, I talked with Jeff Maling the President and Chief Experience Officer and Geoffrey Cubitt the President and Chief Technology Officer of Roundarch. Edited excerpts from that conversation follow.

Forrester: Tell me a little bit about your agency?

Jeff: Roundarch was founded in 2000 by Deloitte and WPP. At that time, the idea was to bring together the technology and program management skills of Deloitte with the creative skills of WPP to tackle large web problems. Over the past year or more that has translated into large digital problems of many types including mobile, touch screen, etc. But for the most part, we’ve stayed true to the vision because we’re specialized in large-scale digital solutions for fortune 500 companies, the government, and large international organizations. We have about 220 full-time employees primarily in New York and Chicago, smaller offices in Denver and Boston, and a virtual office in DC (where we mostly work in secure locations). Like any good agency or consultancy, we also have a few nomads who refuse to move into one of our offices.

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Customer Satisfaction Is More Than Tracking Numbers

For a track session at Forrester's Marketing Forum at the end of April, I dived into the topic of customer satisfaction. For market researchers looking to set up a customer satisfaction (CSAT) study, much guidance is available. However, it also became clear to me why, despite all this advice, many customer satisfaction projects fail.

Most of the information I found -- or the conversations I had, for that matter -- were around the ‘science’ part of CSAT studies: the methodology and set-up. There are many discussions online about questions like which scale to use, which questions to ask (or not), whether a company should focus on relational versus transactional measurement, or if it's better to conduct a customized CSAT project or use an established method like Net Promoter.

However, in my conversations with market researchers, I found that the success of CSAT projects isn't based as much on science -- although a sound and repeatable set-up doesn't hurt -- as much as it is on ‘art.’ The art lies in understanding the company’s business issues; translating these into a well-structured questionnaire; finding the drivers for success; and later, when the results are in, presenting the results in an actionable format.

Any customer satisfaction project that focuses on numbers misses out on the 'art' element of CSAT. Of course, using a standardized methodology helps the company benchmark itself against its competitors. But what does it mean when 80% of your clients are satisfied? The organization will look at this number and want to drive it up, without any understanding of what the impact on the bottom line will be when the percentage of satisfied customers increases from 80% to 82%.

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