Lessons Learned From 1,500 Website User Experience Reviews

After more than 12 years of evaluating website user experience, Forrester reached a major milestone — completing 1,500 Website User Experience Reviews. That's more than 100 reviews per year or more than 10 per month. Whew! We've been busy.

These reviews (using an expert/scenario/heuristic review methodology) span B2C and B2B sites, intranets, and employee portals across many industries and countries. What we do: We identify target users and attempt to accomplish realistic user goals for those users, and then we evaluate the experience on a set of 25 criteria graded across possible scores of -2 (severe failure), -1 (fail), +1 (pass), or +2 (best practice) for each criterion.

So what did we find?

  • Many poor experiences. Since scores for each of the 25 criteria range from a -2 to +2, total scores could range from -50 to +50, and passing all tests would result in a grade of +25 or higher. But the average score across all of our reviews was only +1.1, and only 3% of the sites earned a passing score (that's a total of 45 sites out of the 1,500. Yes, you read that right: 45).
  • Fluctuations in scores over time. The average score rises and falls when we look across versions of the methodology and over time. But, finally, in the latest version, there was a significant increase in the average score over the years just prior — a trend we hope to see continue. There's a similar pattern when we compare B2C and B2B sites. B2B sites have consistently lagged behind B2C sites in user experience scores, but we're finally seeing that gap narrow.
Read more

Order Management Has Become A Strategic Commerce Capability

Over the last few years we have seen a shift in client requirements. Commerce solution programs and eCommerce platform projects have begun to reflect a change in how companies are beginning to do business, and in next generation capability needs they have that encompass:

  • Managing orders across a diverse set of customer touchpoints. It is no longer just about the web. Today’s eBusiness is taking orders through the web, through the mobile web, through mobile apps, through marketplaces, through the contact center, and increasingly through mobile POS, sales force enablement tools, and self-service kiosks. A single order pipeline, enabled through APIs and integration tools will enable consistent order processing with security and control.
  • Enabling complex fulfillment and supply chain scenarios. No longer are orders going to be fulfilled from a single fulfillment center (FC). Tomorrow's orders will be sourced from a wide variety of locations that include that FC, but also include vendor drop-shippers, distributors, stores, and third-party logistics providers who may either regionally stage high-demand products or support seasonal inventory volumes, or both. Business logic and real-time decisioning is critical to driving a high quality consumer experience and a profitable order. The benefits here are multiple, including lower transportation costs and faster time to delivery.
Read more

Ten North American Retail Banking eBusiness And Channel Strategy Trends To Watch In 2012

A trio of factors — mobile devices, regulations, and payments — have changed the retail banking landscape. These factors have driven retail banking firms to adjust business plans to explore new channels, uncover new sources of revenue, and understand potential threats. eBusiness and channel strategy professionals must understand not only these trends but also their impact on how they run and orchestrate channels. I have recently released my report on current industry trends and specifically how those trends are impacting on eBusiness and channel strategy professionals, channel priorities, and 2012 growth opportunities. Here is my high level take on today's trends:

  • Regulations, mobile devices, and payments are changing retail banking. Three macroeconomic and technology trends are changing retail banking. The results for channel professionals are a focus on revenue generation, changing channel models, and payment innovation.
  • Branches are changing, driven by consumer trends and technology. The branches are undergoing big changes, driven by changes in consumers' channel preferences and technology. The result will be specialized sales and revenue-generating branches as well as branches that use digital technologies in multiple aspects of the business.
Read more

Latin Americans’ Love Affair With Social Extends To Mobile Phones

In 2009, we started the Latin American Technographics® product to understand how emerging Latin American markets like Brazil and Mexico are adopting and using technology. During this time, we have seen some very cool findings with respect to social media and social tools. We found that:

Read more

The Insurance Broker is dead! Long live the insurance Broker!

Is there still room for insurance brokers in the fast digitalizing world of insurance? Are they the important filter, and closest to your customer, that brings you the right type of business or are they the greedy commission driven sales persons who are more interested in selling products than providing the right solutions for your customers? Independent advice and added value should be their trademark but are they are living up to that expectation?

Moreover, miss-selling practices in countries like the UK and the Netherlands really put the pressure on them. The regulators and insurance companies - driven by the need for transparency- have forced brokers in many cases to go from a commission based model to a fee based model.  In the Netherlands, the former market leader Nationale-Nederlanden (part of ING Group) was taken hostage for many decades by the brokers. They were threatened to lose business if they would turn to a multichannel strategy. A few months ago (and many years of back log on this multi channel strategy, later) Nationale –Nederlanden announced its multi channel strategy after all. Is this courage, desperation or the only right thing to do? Of course, the latter and I think it is the only way to go for every financial services company. Too many eBusiness and channel strategy executives out there are still struggling with this important issue and related topics as cannibalism and dual pricing attached to it.

Our research shows that even though internet-savvy Gen Y consumers (ages 24-35) are using multiple touch points in their customer journeys when they research or buy a product, guess what, brokers still remain a valuable part of these journeys but only if they provide added value in the research or sales process.

Read more

What If We Merged The Marketing And Sales Funnel With The Customer Life Cycle?

Carlos Hidalgo from The Annuitas Group reminded me in his blog post yesterday that at last year's DemandCon, I decided to be a little provocative in my keynote by claiming that "the marketing funnel is dead." I couldn't resist, especially given that the conference logo is a funnel. I didn't get the oohs and aahhs I expected, and no one threw tomatoes.

I went on to explain that the funnel still serves a purpose, but it no longer reflects today's buyer journey, as my colleague Steven Noble articulated in his report "It's Time To Bury The Marketing Funnel." In a nutshell, buyer behavior is less funnel-like than ever before: Buyers don't move in a linear fashion, they don't necessarily narrow their consideration set as they move through their problem-solving process, and, if you deliver a great experience, they buy from you again.

What does a buyer's problem-solving process look like? It's a customer life cycle (see the picture on the right), where business-to-business (B2B) buyers 1) discover they have a problem or an opportunity and get to a point where they realize they need to change the status quo; 2) explore their requirements and the options for solving the problem; 3) select the best solution and acquire it; 4) and engage with the solution provider and with their peers as they implement the solution . . . and so on and so on.

Read more

The Organizations That Chief Customer Officers Oversee

In our continuing research on the emerging role of the chief customer officer (CCO), we recently looked at the kinds of authority their firms vest in them to drive change across the organization. This authority can affect the activities they do, the composition of the teams that report into them, and the budgets they control. For firms considering putting this kind of senior customer experience leader in place, Forrester has identified three archetypal models that characterize the most typical modes in which CCOs operate.

Advisory CCOs Play A Coaching Role

Companies that are early in their customer experience transformations are often reluctant to commit too many resources or cede control of core company processes to a CCO. These firms tend to place CCOs in an advisory or coaching role for peers with operational responsibilities, particularly if the company has had past success with centralized teams to drive change management efforts. CCOs running these teams have little control over decision-making and execution and instead derive authority through their expertise and personal reputation within their companies. A mandate from senior leadership in a business unit, the executive management team, or the CEO bolsters these CCOs' ability to change behaviors in other departments. These CCOs:

  • Build core capabilities and spread awareness. Because they don't directly control operations, advisory CCOs and their teams focus on building core foundational customer experience capabilities and standards as would a center of excellence.
Read more

How Is Social Impacting Your Business? Join Our #IVJam Tweet Jam On Monday, March 12!

I am honored to be at InsideView's Insider Summit on Monday, March 12 at 9:15am PT to host a keynote and tweet jam. Join me and my fellow analysts, @ZacharyRD, @loriwizdo, @JRSilber, and @timharmon for a lively and interactive discussion on the impact social media and social data are having on marketing and sales processes. 

The tweet jam hashtag is #IVJam

Some of the topics we will discuss are:

  1. How do you think social media impacts an organization’s lead-generation and lead-nurturing processes?
  2. How has your company reacted to the use of social media for work purposes?
  3. How has social media influenced your customer's buying experience?
  4. What are the best practices for using social media to engage with customers?
  5. What results are you getting from your social media tactics?
  6. What are your top social business priorities in 2012?

 We look forward to your participation!

Stay tuned to this blog for a recap on the event and attendee feedback!

Enjoyable Experiences Are The First Step To Creating Emotional Connections With Customers

The Holy Grail of customer experience for many firms goes beyond useful and easy to interactions that create an emotional connection with the customer. That’s not easy to do, but step 1 is creating an experience that is at least enjoyable. Now, before you object . . . I’m not talking Disney-level enjoyable here — just generally pleasant and maybe even a little fun. Two brands that proved it’s possible with high scores on the CXi’s “enjoyable” criteria are:

  • USAA (bank): 84%.
  • Courtyard by Marriott: 83%.
Read more

Cisco Partner Velocity 2012: Leveraging Marketing Enablement As A Differentiator

Cisco’s annual partner marketing conference, Partner Velocity, wrapped up in Las Vegas last week. Two hundred and thirty-five partners from 24 countries were in attendance to witness Cisco’s recently appointed VP of global partner marketing, Amanda Jobbins, sing her heart out during the closing ceremony. I can confidently confirm that she passed her trial by fire with flying colors and her future at Cisco (or Glee, if she decides to pursue that path) is fully secured.

I had the pleasure to sit down with approximately 15 partners over the course of the three-day event. Here’s what the event looked like throughthe lens of partners’ marketing professionals:

  • “As a member of a tiny marketing team, I have a lot of responsibility and very little support. Velocity helps bring me up to speed on the latest-and-greatest marketing trends and best practices.”
  • “The marketing experts that speak at Velocity are top-notch. The only thing more valuable is the peer-to-peer network that the event cultivates. Cisco sure knows how to bring the marketing community together.”
  • “I’d like to see Cisco create marketing education-for-dummies and align it more specifically to my business.”
Read more