Why Your Website Still Matters

The explosion of smartphones and tablet computers has companies frantic to build useful apps for serving their customers. Forrester agrees that companies should be building ways for customers to interact with them at the time and place that’s most relevant to them.

But in the frenzy of the moment, too many companies have let their sites languish. At Forrester, we predict that, contrary to what you hear at conferences, websites will not be passé anytime soon. Just as call centers didn’t die when websites came online, websites will remain critical interaction points for specific types of activities such as those that require heavy form inputs, detailed research that spans multiple sources/formats, initial company contacts, and infrequent support requests. And when the website (or any channel of choice, for that matter) fails, the consequences can be costly.

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Steady Mobile Banking Growth To Drive Demand For Better Functionality

Mobile banking growth in the US continues to be fueled by aggressive adoption of smartphones and regular mobile web use. The problem with this scenario, as noted in my new report, US Mobile Banking Forecast, 2010 To 2015, is that consumers are still struggling to figure out exactly how they will use mobile banking. Lacking any clear differentiated functionality, mobile banking appeals most strongly to those consumers already inclined to use the mobile channel. Unfortunately, this segment is dominated by those already using online banking. As a result, banks are not realizing the full benefit of switching customers to cheaper servicing channels, but instead are seeing cannibalization of one low-cost channel (online) by another (mobile).

To reach one in five US adults, as Forrester predicts mobile banking will do by 2015, US banks will need to enhance today's functionality significantly to create a unique value proposition that resonates with both online and offline consumers. This can be achieved in several ways:

  1. Introducing innovative new features — like mobile remote deposit capture — not commonly available through other channels
  2. Optimizing existing functionality to offer superior user experiences through the mobile channel
    (which of these transfer interfaces would you rather use?)
  3. Leveraging the unique capabilities of mobile devices and the mobile channel (think visual ATM locators and other location-based services) 
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Sales Enablement And The Future Of Selling

Highlights

  • Looking back on the past 10 years puts the changes taking place today in the technology industry in context.
  • Over this period, SGA has grown faster than revenues – a major contributor to margin erosion.
  • Buyers are stratifying their suppliers into a caste system, increasingly delineating strategic vendors from commodity providers.
  • In order to achieve profitable growth objectives, technology vendors must rethink how they go to market.
  • Forrester’s Sales Enablement Forum February 14-15 will provide sales enablement leaders the concepts and approaches to compete in the new emerging “outcome economy.”
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Employees Are Customer Experience Pros’ Best Weapon

If you called American Express a few years ago to report a lost credit card, you got the card cancelled right on the spot. If it appeared under the couch a few minutes later, you were out of luck. You still had to wait several days for a new card to arrive. It was bad for you. It was bad for AmEx. Luckily, a customer care professional (CCP) noticed this phenomenon. And, luckily, AmEx had a formal program for CCPs to suggest policy changes to improve customer experience. If you call to report a lost card today, you can put a 24-hour hold on your card instead of cancelling it. If it turns up, you can have it reinstated — and then go use it. Everybody wins.

This solution may seem obvious looking back, but only an employee with unique contextual insight could spot it at the time. If your company isn’t taking advantage of this insight, you’re missing out.

As I describe in my new report, employees hold the key to great customer experiences. Why? Here are three reasons:

  1. Many employees observe customer interactions directly, so they can spot emerging customer needs and issues before they surface in traditional customer research.
  2. Employees also understand internal operations, so they’re in a natural position to identify root causes of customer problems and suggest solutions. Back-office employees have just as much to offer here as customer-facing employees do.
  3. In addition to having valuable insight, employees have enormous influence. They directly shape the processes and interactions that affect customers, so they can make arms-length changes to quickly improve customer experience. 
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Software App Stores And The Implications For eCommerce

For eBusiness leaders, software app stores represent a new and disruptive distribution channel for PC and Mac software.

Three weeks ago, Apple launched its App Store for Macs, following in the footsteps of the hugely successful app store for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. With the new Mac app store, Apple is hoping to change the way Mac users discover, download and purchase software. At launch the store contained more than 1,000 apps, and Apple was keen to report an impressive 1 million downloads on the first day. For Mac users it’s a compelling story:

  • A convenient one-stop shop. Users can launch the app store right from the Mac dock, revealing a powerful set of discovery tools to browse and search the library of apps on offer. eCommerce best practices are employed throughout including search, faceted navigation, what’s hot, top sellers, favorites and customer reviews to create an intuitive discovery experience.
  • Frictionless purchase and install experience. Downloading and buying in the app store is a simple one-click process. By linking the checkout and payment process to users' iTunes accounts, Apple is able to streamline the buying process significantly versus a typical multipage checkout process common on software publishers' eCommerce sites. The apps in the Mac store have been packaged to comply with the Mac app install process, making the installation quick and seamless compared to the multistep install process common with most software.
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Facebook Missteps: Sponsored Stories & The Omission Of Permission

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I can be a Facebook supporter (some may say apologist), but today I have a bone to pick with it.  

Where others frequently attribute shady intent to everything Facebook does, I see a company legitimately trying to balance the needs of users with the demands of advertisers who fund the free service. Consumers love Facebook, so much so that Facebook now accounts for one of every four page views in the United States, yet you and I pay nothing for it. Or it is more accurate to say that while we provide no cash to Facebook, we do, in fact, pay with our time, attention, data, permission, and clicks (which Facebook converts into cash).

But even Facebook supporters can and should question when the social network takes a step that pushes the envelope of best practices in permission marketing, and I believe it has done just that with Facebook's new Sponsored Stories product. What I find frustrating is how tantalizingly close to perfect the model is, yet the omission of a single feature makes all the difference.

Here's how Facebook Sponsored Stories work:

  • You post a status update about a brand, such as a check-in, like, or a piece of praise.
  • Because that signal of affinity is so ephemeral within the news feeds of your friends (or perhaps may never even be displayed there), the brand can now choose to pay Facebook to turn your status update into an ad. 
  • Your friends (and only your friends) will then see your status update in the right gutter of Facebook.com, along with your name and profile picture.
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Why You Should Use Co-Creation To Build A Better Product In 2011

I've written a lot about co-creation over the past 9 months, demonstrating how it helps consumer product strategy (CPS) professionals develop better products. A majority of companies are not yet using social technologies to involve consumers in the product development process, but that will soon change.  We expect an increasing number of companies to move from the education phase into the experimental phase in 2011 and 2012 -- or risk being left behind while their competitors move forward. Why do we expect co-creation to take off over the next two years?  The research provides a compelling case:

  • Social co-creation delivers substantial benefits to CPS pros, with few barriers. Whether you are looking for new product ideas, validation of internal ideas, or ongoing customer input to the product development process, social co-creation provides a unique way of interacting directly and repeatedly with consumers, with quick turnaround times. Co-creation delivers value.
  • CPS pros recognize the value of co-creation. Even though uptake is far from ubiquitous today, CPS pros recognize the transformative properties of co-creation. Seventy-two percent of product strategy professionals believe social technologies will enhance their existing capabilities of using customer input to shape product strategy.
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The "New Mover" Myth

On January 1st I became a resident of Florida -- my wife and I joke that after the collective 63 years that she, our two kids, and I have spent in New York, that we’re just doing what so many other 63-year-old New Yorkers do -- and headed to the Florida sun. As a migrant, I’ve been closely monitoring the communication that I receive from companies.

So many data and database vendors promote their “new mover” and “pre-mover” offerings that help identify when someone has recently moved house or is about to do so. And although this wasn’t a formal experiment -- and I recognize that I’m a case study of one (or four if you count the family) -- I wanted to observe how companies adjusted their communication once we moved. I should point out that I deliberately didn’t register a change of address with the US Postal Service.

And so far? Zilch. We’ve cancelled and connected cable; switched our address with our credit card issuers, banks, and cell phone companies; registered for new schools; and the only unusual action of late was when American Express denied a charge on my credit card as part of its fraud protection program. Meanwhile, we’ve opened new bank accounts and purchased new appliances, electronics, furniture, and a host of other “new mover” items -- purchase decisions that many marketers would love to have had the opportunity to influence. Again, we may be an isolated case, but if your vendor is selling you “new mover” and “pre-mover” data, have you assessed the quality, timeliness, and accuracy lately?

Meanwhile, if you’re in South Florida, don’t hesitate to look me up!

Cheers,

Dave

The Data Digest: Why Young Consumers Like Tablets

With tablet sales projected to grow from 10.3 million in 2010 to 44 million in 2015, we wanted to understand what will be fueling this growth. Since 18- to 24-year-olds will be the ones growing up accustomed to this technology, we honed in on this demographic to see what it is about the tablets that excites them the most. Our Technographics® data shows that they want a tablet for a variety of reasons, but what they are most attracted to is its portability, and they are much more driven than US online consumers in general by its “fun factor.”

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Sales And Marketing, Republicans And Democrats: Can You Cross The Great Divide?

As I watched the coverage of the president's State of the Union Address this week, I was thinking about how our two political parties present a good analogy to the challenges that marketing and sales teams have in aligning. Democrats and Republicans have deeply-rooted differences . . . they have strong opinions . . . they stand their ground . . . they point fingers across the aisle and blame the other side for everything that's wrong with our country. And occasionally one of them switches to the other side if it advances their career. Sound familiar?

Forrester's CMO Group members have been working with the research team to dig into this age-old issue of misalignment. They told us that they have a hard time applying the traditional guidance and wanted us to find the real obstacles to alignment as well as gather examples of things people have done that have been effective in bringing the two teams closer together.
 
So we surveyed sales and marketing leaders and were not surprised at all to find that companies are still struggling with this chasm. But the biggest surprise we got is that the current efforts to align the two teams mostly center around having sales and marketing people attend each other's meetings. While this is good for increasing information flow between the teams, it is not enough to gain alignment. Sales and marketing teams need a common design point. They need to align their efforts around the customer's needs and the problem-solving process they go through to address those needs.
 
Learn more about our Buyer-Led Alignment Framework by reading my latest report, "B2B Sales And Marketing Alignment Starts With The Customer."
 
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