Today’s digital landscape is complex. As companies use digital interfaces to engage with customers and foster long-term relationships, customer interactions are spanning an increasing array of touchpoints, with customers often crossing multiple channels in the pursuit of a single goal. While this new reality is riddled with challenges, it’s also ripe with opportunities for companies that have a strategic plan for digital customer experience.
In a recent report, and subsequent Mashable article, I made the case that companies need to develop and execute digital customer experience strategies. As opposed to digital marketing strategies that focus mostly on what a company will provide and where, a digital customer experience strategy determines the “what” and the “where” based on the “who” and the “how.” That is, a digital customer experience strategy balances company goals and strategy with user expectations (the “who”) and describes the intended experience (the “how”). This, in turn, guides specific investments based on what customers need and a well-thought-out way of delivering on those needs that leaves a lasting positive impression.
Late last year, I attended a workshop at a small but quite interesting conference in London. The two guys running the workshop separated the attendees into small groups where each of us took turns describing the worst customer experience we’d had, and then the best customer experience we’d had.
I thought it was a remarkably effective exercise, and I would have liked to try something like it at Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum, 2011. Of course with roughly 1,200 attendees, we couldn’t do that so instead we did the next best thing. A few weeks before our event we took a camera crew out to Harvard Square and asked some people on the street to tell us about their experiences.
Let me tell you a little bit about Harvard Square. It’s right in the heart of the Harvard University campus, which is right in the heart of Cambridge, Mass. — a town that Amazon.com recently ranked as the country's most well-read city.
The day we were there, it was graduation week. So in addition to the usual students and tourists from around the world, we met parents there for their kids’ graduation and alumni there for reunions.
We heard some fascinating stories, which led us to a few conclusions. For example, it’s very hard to satisfy every customer, every time — even for a customer experience icon like Apple.
Hopefully that first segment scared you just a little because when companies get the customer experience wrong, it makes a big impact.
But of course, there’s good news, too. When companies get the customer experience right, that also makes a big impact.
Recently, I've posted a question on our Market Insight Community about data visualization. Why? Because infographics are hot. Follow the infographic (#infographic) topic on Twitter and you’ll see a constant stream of new graphics. A recent example of a market-research-related one is this one from The New York Times that shows you how many households in the US have a similar set-up. And this week I tweeted a link to an interview with a company called Tableau Software that helps organizations visualize big data and works with organizations like The Wall Street Journal and CNN Money to create interactive graphics like this one on foreclosure filings.
But what is the role of data visualization in market research? There are numerous posts and contributions about the importance of storytelling for market insights professionals. Will data visualization tools help in engaging our audience with data? Can it be our way of telling a story? David McCandless talked about the beauty of visualization last year at a TED event. Good design, he suggests, is the best way to navigate information glut — and it may just change the way we see the world.
The 2011 Forrester Groundswell Awards is in full swing and the deadline for entries is August 3. This is right around the corner, so I am posting a "shout out" to all of you fellow B2B tech marketers to get your submissions in! I know that there are many amazing marketing programs and campaigns out there that are utilizing social technologies and bringing in impressive results. I know that the majority of tech marketers are listening, talking, energizing, spreading, supporting, and/or embracing their customers through social technologies. I know that tech marketers love to get kudos for their innovation, creativity, and brilliance. So what are you waiting for?
The bottom line is that the Forrester Groundwell Awards provide you with the priceless opportunity to showcase your social applications and get the positive attention you deserve for your innovative efforts. Last years B2B awards recipients were quite impressive, to say the least. And companies like Spiceworks and eCairn proudly promoted their prestigious Groundswell awards to their peers, customers and partners. Now it's your turn!
You are only 3 steps away from the chance of being this year's award winner:
Although he just turned 10, my son is very serious about his finances. And his entire life savings (such as it is — he only gets $3 per week for his allowance) is at Citizens Bank.
Personally I'm more interested in how my kid gets treated by his bank than I am about his account balance. So I was quite keen to hear from Nick Primola from Citizens Financial Group, one of the speakers at Forrester's Customer Experience Forum, 2011.
Nick is senior vice president of direct marketing at Citizens Financial Group, where he’s responsible for enterprisewide direct marketing efforts supporting all of the bank’s business lines. As a self-confessed "data guy," that could have put us at odds. Was he going to be the driving force behind a spam attack on my kid? But as it turns out, Nick has a very enlightened view of how data gets used.
You all know Nikon, which has more than $8 billion in annual revenue and 26,000 employees worldwide. At Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum, 2011, we also got to know David Dentry, general manager of customer relations for Nikon.
David’s a lucky guy. He’s been interested in photography since he was a small child, so working at Nikon is a dream job for him. He was a photographer and photo teacher in the US Navy for eight years, which had him shooting (in a way that’s different from the way most military personnel shoot) everything from aerial reconnaissance photos to cake-cutting events. In fact, he joined the Navy based on his recruiter’s assurance that if he signed up he’d get to be a photographer.
Today David’s responsible for all aspects of customer support for Nikon in the Americas. His team manages Nikon’s call center operations and the nikonusa.com website. That’s quite an interesting challenge because he gets the customer service experience challenge in stereo from two very different types of channels. Not to worry, though, because he has a technique he uses to suss out the lowest common denominator when it comes to customer experience challenges: ask Grandma.
Welcome to Q&Agency! Each week, I 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 midsize interactive and design agencies. If you'd like to see your agency or an agency you work with here, let me know!
On April 15th, I talked with Jeff Cram, chief strategy officer and co-founder of ISITE Design. Edited excerpts from that conversation follow.
Forrester: Tell me a little bit about ISITE Design?
Jeff: ISITE Design is a digital agency founded in 1997 in Portland, Oregon. We’ve grown to 55 employees and opened up additional offices in Boston and Los Angeles. We’re fortunate to work with fantastic organizations like Zipcar, Jive Software, Genzyme, and MIT, to name a few. We operate at the exciting intersection of digital strategy, experience design, marketing technology, and measurement. We also just broke ground on a new 18,000-square-foot headquarters in Portland that will be the creative hub for the next chapter of our growth.
Forrester: What is your elevator pitch?
Jeff: We are a digital agency that helps companies rethink how business gets done online. Our mission is to teach organizations how to thrive in a digital age, and we take that seriously. We feel that digital has reached escape velocity from marketing and that organizations need a new type of partner that can help connect smart digital execution to business operations and growth.
Forrester: What are the three key things that differentiate you from your competitors?
Joe Stanhope and the Customer Intelligence team are returning to Forrester’s #IMChat Tweet Jam with a session on mobile application measurement – at 2 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, July 12th. These are weekly discussions held via Twitter on a variety of marketing topics, using the #IMChat hashtag. Everyone is welcome to join in.
Mobile applications impact many roles in organizations, but interactive marketers and Customer Intelligence professionals are tasked with determining the value of these initiatives. During Tuesday’s chat, Joe and his co-host Brian Suthoff from Localytics want to open a dialogue between you and your peers about how to measure the success of new mobile applications. They will ask:
1. What role do mobile applications play in the digital marketing mix; are they enablers of marketing and commerce, or are mobile apps products in and of themselves?
2. How do we judge the success of mobile applications?
3. What challenges do you experience in measuring mobile applications?
4. How should mobile application measurement data integrate with other marketing and enterprise systems?
5. As applications mature, is the “mobile” distinction less important than the concept of an “app”?
Our European Interactive Marketing research team continues to grow. We've just opened a position for a Principal Analyst, preferably based in London. We're looking for someone with strong viewpoints on interactive marketing, an analytical mind, and experience solving for the added complexities of Pan-European digital programs (multiple countries, langugages, online behaviours, cultural tendencies).
If this sounds like you, then I hope you'll consider the opportunity and apply (you can do so here). Now is a fun time to be an analyst writing in the space. We get to help our Interactive Marketing clients make the right call on where and how to invest as more money goes to digital marketing, emerging tools promise richer engagement, and more robust measurement demonstrates the business results of interactive efforts. Plus, you'd be joining a great European IM team -- Nate Elliott, Lucilla de Sarlo, Tanya McCabe, Lauriane Camus, James McDavid, and me. OK, I'm a little biased here.
If you want to discuss further, then DM me @coverby. Hope to hear from you!
I have had the opportunity to contribute to a brand-new piece of research led by my colleague Julie A. Ask, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester.
We both believe mobile has the potential to be even bigger and more disruptive than the Internet.
That’s a bold statement! Today, few of the numerous professionals we interviewed are developing digital strategies that leverage context and make the most of the phenomenal technology packed inside mobile devices. Even fewer are anticipating the opportunities that will emerge tomorrow, with technology innovation driving capabilities around the user’s context.
Indeed, the fancy features, such as GPS and NFC, embedded in mobile phones will become common, while new sensors like barometers will reveal more about the user’s environment. The phones will also act as modems, relaying or interpreting information from other machines or from attachments with sensors. In a few years, mobile will be divorced from the PC. While a mobile device may have the ability to act like a PC, it has the potential to do much, much more. Product strategists must step into the leadership role, driving the development of user-context-based products. Increasingly, voice and motion will control devices and applications. There will be an entirely new generation of products and services delivered on mobile platforms that will not originate online.
At the end of the day, who knows you best? Your mobile phone! Why?
Because it will become the device you use to interact with the world around you — your hotel room, your shopping cart, your TV, your bank, your parking meter, your car, your running shoes, and many other aspects of your life. You won’t be able to keep anything secret from your mobile phone.