The Future Of Mobile Is Context

Delivering highly contextual mobile services is an expectation. Mobile phones are personal devices. Consumers expect personal and relevant experiences. 

What is context?

Forrester defines “context” as

“the sum total of what your customer has told you and is experiencing at his moment of engagement.”

Context includes:

Situation: the current location, altitude, and speed the customer is experiencing.

Preferences: the history or personal decisions the customer has shared with you.

Attitudes: the feelings or emotions implied by the customer’s actions or logistics.

eBusiness professionals make limited or very basic use of context today. Mostly, they use an individual’s location to tell her where the nearest store or hotel is. The use of location is a minimum requirement today to meet consumer expectations of “decent” mobile services. The bar is rising quickly though. eBusiness professionals need to layer intelligence on top of contextual information and plan how they will use new contextual information such as temperature or altitude.

Here are a few scenarios that simply leverage intelligence with location:

  • Banks. Should a user require the same depth of authentication at home, at work, or in a foreign country?
  • Hotels. How much should you quote a prospective customer for a room tonight if she is 5 miles or 500 miles away?
  • Airlines. What home page services should you show a passenger whose flight leaves in 2 hours? In 10 minutes?
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How Southern Water Mapped Its Customer Experience Ecosystem

Companies that want to improve their customer experience need to understand the intertwined and ever-evolving relationships among their internal employees, external partners, and customers. Forrester calls this complex set of relationships the customer experience ecosystem.

As I said in a previous post, to get a grip on your own ecosystem, you need to map it, co-create it, and socialize it. And when I say “map it,” I mean that you need to systematically uncover and document the ecosystem's hidden dynamics. 

Here’s a story of a company that did just that: English utility provider Southern Water. (If you live in the southeast of England, you don’t get your water without these guys.)

For a long time, Southern Water was handling about 50 water-meter installations per week, all at its customers’ requests. But a few years ago, the company decided to roll out universal metering street by street across the region, moving toward 500 installations a week.

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The Best Airline Experience You Haven’t Heard Of Yet

There’s a personal story behind why we invited one of our speakers to be on the main stage at Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum, 2011.

A few months back, I had to take a trip from Boston to Toronto. My colleague Jeff Thurston said, “You’ve got to fly Porter.” I asked why, and he just said “trust me.” Well, I do trust Jeff so I went ahead and booked a flight on Porter Airlines.

When I got back to Boston I concluded two things. First, the only way I was going to fly to Toronto from now on was via Porter. Second, I needed to get someone from Porter on stage to talk about the butt-kicking customer experience I’d just had.

What’s so great about Porter? Let me give you my take. It starts with flying into Billy Bishop airport, which is basically in the city of Toronto — as opposed to Toronto Pearson International airport, which is a long cab ride outside of Toronto. So when you get off the plane at Billy Bishop, you just saved yourself about 15 miles worth of traffic.

That’s the convenient part. Now for the cool part. The flight experience is retro 1960s (maybe earlier, I wasn’t flying in the 60s). The seats are wide and comfortable. The crew treats you like they want your business. You get snacks that are basically meals plus wine or beer — and it’s complimentary! I almost fell out of my leather seat when  the flight attendant told me that.

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Join The Tweet Jam On Mobile Application Measurement

I’m pleased to announce that Customer Intelligence is returning to the Forrester #IMChat tweet jam next week with a session on mobile application measurement – at 2 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, July 12th. Just in case you’re new to our tweet jam sessions, these are weekly interactive discussions held via Twitter on a variety of marketing topics, using the #IMChat hashtag. Everyone is welcome to join in.

Mobile is top of mind for many marketers due to growing market penetration, improved mobile network capacity, and the availability of compelling devices such as smartphones. Engaging with consumers via mobile is no longer optional; the traffic numbers for mobile web browsing and application usage are too big to ignore. I am fascinated by mobile because it is very much related to other interactive channels, and as a platform, mobile is a tremendous enabler of other channels such as social, yet it is a very unique, specialized, and personal experience.

Mobile applications are an exciting frontier for digital marketing, with huge potential for engaging customers and driving revenue and loyalty. But as an emerging channel, mobile applications are challenging due to new and evolving technical requirements, uncertain consumer expectations, and a paucity of benchmarks. Clearly, this is an environment where measurement is critical: to optimize customer experiences, maximize ROI, make the case for investment, and to meet customer needs. But sophisticated mobile application measurement remains the exception rather than the rule.

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Call Center Customer Experience Transformation At American Express — And THAT'S The Way It’s Done

Last year we published not just one but two reports that featured the outstanding customer experience transformation process that took place in the American Express call centers. The first report described the winning entry submitted by American Express for a 2010 Voice Of The Customer Award — the data from that VoC program drove many of their call center improvements.  The second report was a profile of the transformation itself based on a talk by Reena Panikar, vice president and business leader of American Express' Customer Service Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

We were so impressed by this story that we invited Jim Bush, executive vice president of world service at American Express to speak at Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum 2011.

Jim is responsible for leading the company’s global customer servicing operation — which includes 25 proprietary locations across the globe and a team of tens of thousands of customer care professionals who provide service to more than 63 million customers. He was the driving force behind the American Express call center transformation.

Listen in as Jim describes how it all went down.

The Chief Customer Officer For The Financial Services Company With The Best Customer Experience

One of the challenges in putting together Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum is that we have a very limited number of main-stage speaker slots. And that’s frustrating because as the content champion for the event, I wanted to put the top bank, the top credit card provider, and the top insurance provider on stage.

Lucky for me our Customer Experience Index data tells us that’s all the same company: USAA.

And that’s why we were so happy to have Wayne Peacock as a speaker.

Wayne is executive vice president of member experience at USAA, where he oversees its marketing, channel management, sales, and service functions. We profiled him earlier this year as part of our series “Conversations With Chief Customer Officers.”

As always, the USAA story is inspiring. As Wayne put it, it accomplishes its mission by focusing on three things that are deceptively simple but very hard to execute well:

  • Know your customer.
  • Organize your business around your customer’s need.
  • Make it about a bigger mission.

To which I will only add: If you do those things, you might also have a year-over-year customer retention rate of 97% to 98% like USAA.

But don’t take my word — listen to Wayne yourself. Enjoy!

What Is The Contact Center Cost Of Login Issues?

The cost of login issues can be staggering.

According to research released by Janrain, a vendor providing user management solutions for the social Web, 45% of US adults admit to leaving a website instead of resetting their passwords or answering security questions when they have forgotten their passwords.

Failed logins also can have a huge impact on contact center costs. I’ve spoken with eBusiness executives who have told me that login issues represent as much as 50% of their contact center volume.

I’m working on a project and trying to get some deeper knowledge into the impact customers or clients telephoning due to login difficulties (i.e., lost password, user name, etc.) have on contact center costs.

And I’m hoping you might be able to help me.

I’d be grateful for insight into:

  • The number of telephone calls your call center receives (weekly, monthly, annually, or whatever time frame you break it into).
  • The percentage of contacts to your call center that are due to log-in difficulties.
  • The cost per contact for login difficulties.
  • Alternatively, perhaps you could provide the annual cost -- or approximate cost -- of assisting clients or customers who are having trouble logging in.
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What The Facebook-Skype Partnership Means To Interactive Marketers

Today Facebook announced that it will be bringing Skype video to its existing chat feature, bringing a next-generation experience to hundreds of millions of people (Facebook also announced it now has more than 750 million users). This is another step for Facebook to solidify it as a central platform for communication and connection across the globe. Yet for marketers, this particular partnership offers little in the short term. There may be an opportunity to chat with fans, whether for customer service purposes or even a more live version of the Old Spice campaign, yet those features are not available to brands at this time. However, two aspects of this announcement will impact marketing in the long term:

  1. Facebook continues to be the center of earned media. It's already the number one place for online word of mouth, and according to today's announcement, 4 billion things are shared every day -- a rate that has doubled in the past year alone. And with Open Graph and Facebook Connect, Facebook not only has a walled garden destination but now lives nearly everywhere across the Web collecting data on millions if not billions of earned media (both word-of-mouth conversations and shared branded content). This makes Facebook, even in the wake of the new shiny object of Google+, still very relevant for marketers.
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The Real “Undercover Boss” — Office Depot’s Kevin Peters

No offense meant to any of the other great speakers at Forrester’s recent Customer Experience Forum 2011, but I have to admit that I had a favorite: Kevin Peters, Office Depot’s president, North American retail.

Kevin had some stiff competition from executives like USAA’s Wayne Peacock, Jim Bush from American Express, the members of our chief customer officer panel, and others. But Kevin won me over by giving one of the best speeches I have ever seen anywhere.

As someone who A) gives speeches on a pretty regular basis, B) attends a lot of events where I see other people give speeches, and C) feels compelled to analyze everything, I’ve been thinking a lot about why Kevin was so good.

Let’s start with the fact that he rocked it old school by standing up and delivering a speech without slides or any other kind of visual aids. Yeah, that’s right — he stood up and told a story so interesting that I just sat there riveted.

How did he manage that trick? It was a combination of great content and passion about that content. Let me be clear: If you’ve ever wondered what an executive who is deeply committed to his customers looks like, just watch this.

The Rise Of The Chief Customer Officer . . . Panel!

I was recently fortunate enough to host a panel of three chief customer officers (CCOs) on the main stage of Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum 2011.

They’re all quite different. Fred Leichter from Fidelity Investments has a background in customer experience, having guided the design of Fidelity websites for many years (and as a Fidelity customer, I can say that those sites are pretty darn good). In contrast, Jim Merlino of The Cleveland Clinic is a practicing surgeon as well as CCO, and Jeff Harvey of SAP (who was recently promoted out of the CCO position) has a diversified leadership background that’s more typical of the customer experience executives we recently studied.

Interestingly, despite their differences, they all spend time as CCOs on evangelizing customer experience, building empathy for customers among their organizations’ employees, and embedding customer-centricity into projects.

Check out this video excerpt from our session and share your own thoughts about this emerging role!