Frequently Asked Questions About Forrester's Customer Experience Index, 2012

Since publishing our Customer Experience Index, 2012 last week, we've gotten a flood of questions about the research, methodology, and results. I'm putting the finishing touches on a full Forrester report that answers the ten most common questions but thought I'd give everyone a sneak preview with a blog post summarizing a few of the answers.

1. Who are the people rating the brands in Forrester's Customer Experience Index?

To produce the CXi each year, Forrester conducts an online survey of US individuals ages 18 to 88. This year, there were 7,638 such folks who answered the survey during October 2011.  We weighted the data by age, gender, income, broadband adoption, and region to demographically represent the adult US online population. The sample was drawn from members of MarketTools' online panel, and respondents were motivated by receiving points that can be redeemed for a reward.

2. Which touchpoints are consumers rating when they answer the CXi questions?

The short answer to this question is "any touchpoints they used to interact with the brand." We don't direct consumers to think about any specific touchpoints as they rate their interactions. Instead, we want them to consider all of their interactions with that brand over the past 90 days, regardless of how they happened.

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Bad Reasons For NOT Having A Chief Customer Officer

I recently updated our research on enterprisewide customer experience leaders, who we refer to as “chief customer officers” or CCOs. While they often don’t have that exact title, we identified around 600 individuals who carry a mandate to improve the end-to-end customer experience at their company. We did some deeper research on close to 200 of them in order to understand the general profile of these people as well as how their positions are structured within their companies.

Forrester has witnessed a marked increase in the position over the past six years. And for good reason: Competitive forces are shifting dramatically in what we call the “age of the customer” (from Forrester report "Why Customer Experience? Why Now?"). Firms struggle to compete on product innovation alone, as global outsourcing and cloud-based computing lower barriers to entry and create scores of substitutes. Customer power has grown, as 73% of firms trust recommendations from friends and family, while only 19% trust direct mail (from Forrester report "Consumer "Ad-itudes" Stay Strong"). Firms have turned to customer experience as a way to differentiate in this commoditized world, which has led to the surge in CCOs. In my new report, I profiled key characteristics of CCOs as well as models for the kinds of organizations they oversee.

At the same time, as high-profile firms like Fidelity, The Washington Post, and General Motors have put in place senior customer experience leaders over the past year or so, I’ve been struck by the wide assortment of reasons that firms use to rationalize NOT putting a chief customer officer in place.

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Transform Business Processes For Breakthrough Customer Experiences

I’ve just finished up several months of research digging into the best practices of how leading organizations aspire to implement outside-in, customer-focused, cross-functional processes that transform the organization and set it on the path toward continuous improvement. At the core of this trend is a desire by these organizations, especially in services industries, to domesticate their “untamed” or “invisible” processes that touch customers.

In talking with nearly 30 organizations, consulting companies, and solution vendors, I found that instead of deploying slow-to-change packaged applications or building difficult-to-change custom solutions, leading organizations are embracing business process methodologies — supported by process-centric IT platforms. They are striving to drive rapid process change, increased business engagement in IT projects, and achieve dramatic improvements in worker productivity.

In my new report, I define more than 30 best practices that organizations can use to support their transition to process-centric customer CRM. Here are few of them:

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The Top Thirteen Customer Management Trends For 2012

What are the key trends that CRM trends that business and IT professionals need to pay attention to in setting their plans during 2012? Here are the top trends that I am tracking. My full report that spotlights our latest research and recommendations for how to compete in The Age of the Customer will be published in late January.

1. Customer experience management will move beyond aspiration to strategy. More organizations will move beyond empty goals like becoming “customer-obsessed” to define clear and actionable customer experience strategies. The strategy must meet three tests: 1) It defines the intended experience; 2) it directs employee activities and decision-making; and 3) it guides funding decisions and project prioritization.

2. Brands will embrace the experience ecosystem. Firms will move to break free from their organizational silos, invest in understanding customer moments of truth through journey-mapping, and embrace the concept of the “customer experience ecosystem” — one that considers the influence of every single employee and external partner on every single customer interaction.

3. Experience management will emerge as a management discipline. There is increasing acceptance of the idea that customer experience management can be thought of as a discipline — a set of sound, repeatable practices such as those are defined in Forrester’s Customer Experience Maturity Framework.

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