So, I just got back from Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum in New York. This year, it was at the Marriott Marquis, right in the heart of Times Square. Now, if you’re like me and have lived in a rural (ok, backwoods) town for the past 10 years, Times Square can be pretty overwhelming. You feel like you’re wading through a sea of people with every step. You hear more languages and see more diverse cultures in a block than in an around-the-world trip. And the neon and pictures and street-hawkers and . . . and . . . and. It’s total information overload.
Even worse, I had arranged to meet clients in the middle of this chaos. I was lost and running late. The call was short but clear: “Can you hear us? We’re here. Where are you? We need to leave soon.”
For many market insights professionals, my experience in Times Square is a microcosm of reality. Many have been stuck in the back office, already struggling to meet present stakeholders' needs. Suddenly, you're thrust into an overwhelming sea of new data sources with an executive mandate to find the customers and figure out their needs. Worse, if you don’t do this quickly, your customers are going to leave.
I had the good fortune to work with Josh Bernoff, co-author of Groundswell and Empowered, on a groundbreaking new report. Along with colleagues from across Forrester, he has raised the red flag on a new era of competitive advantage that ties together what technology has brought us — information — with the end goal in mind — the customer — to define a new strategic focal point for companies that he and we now call the age of the customer. See his initial blog post here, or watch this video about the report:
Why is this so important? Because many companies have maximized the value of information that has dominated technology investment and decision-making since the early 1990s when the Internet boom began, computers got substantially cheaper and more powerful, and connectedness began to change the dynamic between people and companies. Over the next decade or more, the only way companies will truly stand apart from their competition will be a devotion to combining information, technology, and decision-making into a defensible and fundamentally stronger position — obsessing about the best customers that they have and demonstrating that value in terms of products, marketing, and service.
Do you think your company is customer obsessed already? Look at your customer systems and ask yourself some key questions:
Do you know the share of wallet you maintain with customers?
Do you engage customers when they are not in the buying cycle?