Bienvenue Dans L’ère Du Commerce Agile

Thank you for your interest in reading our agile commerce post in French. After we published the original post in English, we noticed a number of clients and readers of the blog discussing the post in other languages across various social channels. We decided to make translations of the post available in a few of those languages to further a conversation on one of the big ideas we’re writing about in eBusiness & Channel Strategy. At this point, our translated posts are simply a trial. Forrester’s other blog posts and our syndicated research reports remain available only in English, but we look forward to your comments on how you see the ideas presented playing out in your area. 

Merci pour l’intérêt que vous avez porté à cet article en français sur le commerce agile. Après avoir publié l’article original en anglais, nous avons observé que plusieurs clients et lecteurs discutent cet article en d’autres langues, sur des réseaux sociaux variés. Nous avons donc décidé de traduire l’article dans quelques-unes de ces langues afin de continuer la conversation sur certaines des idées que nous traitons au sein de l’équipe eBusiness & Channel Strategy.  Pour le moment, l’initiative est simplement expérimentale. Les autres articles et les rapports de Forrester sont uniquement disponibles en anglais, mais nous attendons avec impatience vos commentaires sur le blog, ainsi que vos réflexions sur les sujets présentés et leur application dans votre contexte professionnel.

 

Bienvenue dans l’ère du commerce agile

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Allstate’s Acquisition Of esurance: The Start Of Something Bigger For Ebiz Teams?

I got jolt this morning, and it wasn’t from my coffee.  The headlines in my morning insurance news push were all about  last night's announcement that Allstate was acquiring esurance and an agency sibling, Answer Financial for $1 billion (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-18/allstate-to-buy-esurance-in-1-b...).  Along with the fact that esurance itself has gone to market with what every ebusiness executive has stated as the big strategy over the near-term—giving the customer the choice in how they want to engage with its new “Technology When You Want It, People When You Don’t”  tagline—this deal could well be the start of a more interesting trend:  a bigger wave of M&A among Tier 1 carriers.

This news was especially tantalizing because we just wrapped up a series of interviews with insurance thought leaders to get a perspective for how the insurance industry was going to look in 2020.   We wanted to understand how these changes were going to impact the jobs of ebiz executives in insurance.  This is what we heard: 

Enabled by “big data”, carriers are going to:

  • Shed and acquire business lines to be more specialized and obviously more profitable
  • Make some splashy acquisitions (like this one),
  • Launch new and innovative business models (like a “lights out” insurer that, in exchange for low premiums, policyholders would have to do more for themselves)
  • Challenged by new market entrants who “get” data

All of which have big implications for what insurance ebusiness teams will be challenged to do.  Look for our thoughts on what 2020 is going to mean later this quarter.

Mobile Services - Failure To Focus On Customer Needs Will Result In a "Miss"

I saw a story this morning on Mobile Commerce Daily: "Fontainbleau targets upscale, on-the-go consumers via mobile presence." I've been a guest at the hotel for the past day so I can't resist joining this conversation. I also happened to download this application while waiting in line for a smoothie at a restaurant yesterday -- between meetings, of course. Here's a quote from the article:

“Fontainebleau chose to launch this app to enhance the overall customer experience while giving them insight on the resort as well as the surrounding Miami Beach area,” said Philip Goldfarb, president and chief operating officer of Fontainebleau Miami Beach, Miami. “It is an extension of the brand’s commitment to providing its guests with the latest advances in the mobile marketplace.”

First, I'll offer -- I'm just a guest or customer here -- I haven't studied the business, but there are a few disconnects.  

Here's what is working well:

  • Fontainbleau does seem to have a tech-savvy customer base. As I walked through the pool area yesterday, I noticed quite a few iPads, Kindles, and smartphones -- guests definitely have their technology at the pool. And Wi-Fi works at the pool -- well done.
  • The application is promoted well. I noticed advertisements several places throughout the property. It uses a sweepstakes to promote the application with the prizes clearly listed.
  • Beautiful photographs -- this resort is amazing and is well represented by the media in the application.
  • There is a solid balance of content -- eat, shop, play, etc.
  • There was a lot of content re "what to do" nearby.
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What The Education Industry Should Learn From Retailers

I did two things recently:  I saw Waiting for Superman, and I looked online for educational content/tools for my daughters. In both cases, I was appalled by how difficult it was to find teaching supplements online (and in general). I’m not an expert on education, but I am a parent, and being part of an industry (i.e., retail) that has been transformed by the Internet and has fundamentally shifted how it engaged with its consumers, I think that educators could learn a few things from retailers:

  • The Web can give good teachers scale. One of the challenges of good schools is that there are a finite number of slots, just like there’s finite shelf space in a store. Sites like Amazon.com solved that problem by making the Web their storefront.  This enabled them to sell OPM (other people’s merchandise) and not incur the most expensive investments of stores — real estate and inventory. Why can’t the Web be our schoolhouse, or at least a new one? That way, there needn’t be a cap on the number of people who can, for instance, view a video of an award-winning teacher teaching. Why don’t we use the power of the Web to make talented teachers available to more students like web retailers have managed to make more products available to more people? Why are questionable for-profit universities the only ones doing this?
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Using Net Promoter Scores To Inform Customer Service Strategy

The pro of Net Promoter Score (NPS) is that it is simple. The con is it’s too simple. But is that too simple a con?

For those of you not familiar with NPS, it is a feedback measurement that examines how customers view your company. Most commonly, NPS asks: "How likely is it that you would recommend [organization X] to a friend or colleague?" Respondents are asked to answer this question on scale from 0 (not at all likely) to 10 (extremely likely). Customers are classified as either promoters (answered 9 or 10), passives (answered 7 or 8), or detractors (answered 6 or less). The NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.

Suhail Khan, vice president and head of customer experience at Philips, has written a Harvard Business Review blog post outlining how Philips uses Net Promoter Scores to understand customers. It began using Net Promoter Scores during an initial pilot in late 2006 and has since embraced the tool to try to become an "outside-in, customer-focused organization." One of the points Mr. Khan makes is how NPS impacts Philips’ customer service strategy, including driving the decision to extend the company’s customer care center to weekends. 

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Retailers Push The Envelope With Ratings & Reviews

Forrester recently released a document entitled “Ratings & Reviews: Q1 2011 Snapshot.” In it, we discuss how eBusiness professionals continue to create value for customers via user-generated product review content.  The next evolution of ratings and reviews should prove to be:

  • More flexible, as a multidimensional approach takes over.
  • More exposed, as social networks connect brands and consumers.
  • More pervasive, as retailers use multiple touchpoints to create coordination and consistency.
  • More strategic, as the information derived from ratings and reviews is utilized across the organization.

Of course, this research document is meant to serve as a snapshot, meant to launch a dialogue about what is happening in the space. With that in mind, what are you seeing in the world of ratings and reviews that wasn’t mentioned here? How are those technologies helping eBusiness professionals succeed? And of what we did highlight in the report, what are some examples you have seen of those being used to their fullest effect?

Read the full report here, and then comment on this post.

Patti Freeman Evans

DSGI Know How. Do you?

I’m intrigued by the recent launch of KnowHow.com.

I’ve known it was coming for a while, but now that it’s here it’s not quite what I expected. However in a way it’s actually a lot better. 

KnowHow.com is, for want of a better description, the customer service portal for the DSGI chain of consumer electronics stores in the UK:  Dixons.co.uk, Currys, and PC World. These stores operate in a fiercely competitive but large and lucrative market in the UK and extend their reach into Europe through sister company Pixmania.  In recent years wallet share in the CE sector has been moving increasingly online, with brick-and-mortar stores facing the challenge of competing on price with their leaner, lower-cost online rivals. But despite this off-to-online swing, the group is reporting that Internet sales are down.

I was expecting KnowHow to be its revamped eCommerce operation, its response to lackluster digital sales. But interestingly it has done something different. It appears to be trying to step out of the race to the bottom from a price perspective and is positioning itself to begin to compete on a new axis. Service. An interesting play in what could be considered a commodity market.

However, when you learn that its multichannel sales are up 12%, this may not be such a strange move.

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Reinforcing Your Brand Through Chat

I recently had a chat interaction with a financial services company that ended with the rep signing off with a smiley face emoticon. For a split second, I wondered if the person helping me sort through my financial accounts  dotted her "i"s with a happy face and had a favorite Jonas brother.

The chat session was helpful and I’m sure the happy face emoticon was a well-intentioned sign-off, but the interaction reminded me that an obvious brand inconsistency may not be obvious to everyone who represents your brand.

Communicating via chat is very different from the telephone. There is no customer voice tone to gauge mood. It’s more difficult to inject humor or small talk. The channel lends itself to informality that may not be appropriate.

The right brand voice is not always self-evident. Best-in-class companies train their chat agents to connect with customers with the right tone for the brand. I spoke recently with a financial services client who described that a key part of chat rep training is to help reps detect and match the level of formality in their customers’ tones. Similarly, Virgin Media provides training to its reps on the how to inject elements of the casual fun that are part of Virgin Media’s cheeky brand voice.

Reinforcing your brand through chat doesn’t just happen. But it can happen when finding your brand voice is a part of chat agent training.

Mobile Banking ROI Is Small Today But Will Grow With The Addition Of Next Generation Functions

In our new report, "The ROI Of Mobile Banking," Forrester presents a flexible model to help eBusiness and channel strategy executives estimate the ROI of — and outline the business case for — their mobile banking strategies. The resulting return on investment comes to roughly 15%. While positive, the ROI from our model is far from a ringing endorsement of mobile as a money maker for banks today.

For the report, we use our model to estimate the ROI of a multifaceted mobile banking effort by a US-based retail banking provider with 500,000 deposit account customers. Forrester’s model includes eight modifiable inputs: four cost inputs and four benefit inputs. These cover the cost of developing, testing, and implementing mobile services, as well as the potential savings and revenue that a provider might expect from offering such services.

Our findings do not mean mobile banking initiatives should be scrapped. Far from it: Supporting the mobile channel is no longer optional for banking providers in most markets. Their customers and prospects — especially the younger set of Gen Xers, Gen Yers, and teen Millennials — will demand it. Forrester’s Technographics® research shows that 22% of US online adults say it is either “important” or “very important” that the deposit account provider they choose offer access to their accounts through a mobile phone or device. And more than a third of adults younger than 35 feel this way.

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New “State Of Retailing Online” Doc Released On Shop.org

Forrester recently published the “State Of Retailing Online 2011: Marketing, Social, and Mobile” report in conjunction with our friends at Shop.org. It is available on Shop.org (with a subscription) now.

Some highlights include:

  •  Understanding which marketing tactics are still leading to growth.
  • Examining the investment in social and the returns retailers are seeing.
  • Analyzing mobile and tablet adoption and strategy.

Look for the full report on Forrester.com in early June.