We have just celebrated Christmas, but I’m increasingly looking forward to the Chinese New Year as this will be my first time spending the Chinese New Year in China in 12 years!
Reading the reports on how much US consumers spent this year during the holiday month made me reflect on what Chinese consumers do during their single most important holiday of the year — and how they spend their money. While the Chinese New Year is traditionally about celebrating the New Year with friends and family, in recent years an increasing number of people have chosen the unconventional route and used this time to visit other countries. According to Ctrip.com (quoted by Sina Finance), more than 50% of the packages to the US, Middle East and Africa, and Australia were booked two months before the Chinese New Year. And wherever Chinese travelers go, they shop: If you’ve ever seen a Chinese travel group’s itinerary, you will know that a couple of stops at a shopping mall or an outlet are usually incorporated into the plan.
A couple of months ago, I spoke at a conference in Las Vegas. Immediately before my talk, two advertising execs, one a professed quant geek and the other a “creative,” spoke about how their agencies rely less on hunches these days and more on quantitative data to drive emotional relevance between their clients and consumers. “We can identify human emotions in massive rivers of data,” the ad men said. When I pressed them for an example during the Q&A session, they described how they had recently mined millions of clickstreams, search queries, video views, website clicks, and the like for a major mortgage lender. All in, the technology investment behind their analysis must have stacked well into six figures. And their big emotional insight? When people start shopping around for a mortgage, that’s all they can focus on until they’ve gotten it all sorted out.
I could hardly believe my ears! Any skilled ethnographer could have discovered that same insight — and then some — through a day of in-home customer visits and $150 in taxi receipts.
Customer experience professionals can now glean customer insights from social media, financial systems, emails, surveys, call centers, and digital and analog sensors. It’s amazing and wonderful, yes. But here’s the danger: Companies that become mesmerized by big data put themselves at risk of spending enormous amounts of time and money amassing new data sources — and in the process, forgetting that research methods like observation and one-on-one interviews even exist. This has the potential to create a large, and exceedingly expensive, blind spot.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a big data hater. However, to create a complete picture of who your customers are and what they really need, you need a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods.
Our book giveaway contest is over and our 10 randomly selected winners are:
Holly S. from Fannie Mae
Arshad F. from Mobrise
Thomas Z. from CIO2020.com
Juha-Pekka H. from P&C Insurance
Monika K. from HSBC
Francesco R. from Pasticceria Romeo
Kim P. — @retaincustomers
Christian B. — @CSinnovations4
Derek G. — @derekgardiner
Zsolt N. — @zsoltnagy4
Someone from Forrester will be in touch soon. Congratulations, and happy reading!
What simple innovation brought billions in new investments to Fidelity? What basic misunderstanding was preventing Office Depot from achieving its growth potential? What surprising insights helped the Mayo Clinic better serve both doctors and patients? The solution in each case was a focus on customer experience, the most powerful — and misunderstood — element of corporate strategy today. Your gut already tells you that customer experience is the key to business success. Now you can prove it. Based on fourteen years of research, Forrester’s new book Outside In offers a complete roadmap to attaining the experience advantage.
Want to win a copy of Outside In? We’re giving away 10 copies this Friday, December 14. You can enter to win two different ways:
Recently I was on a panel about the impact of cultural change on customer experience. My fellow panelists included Meltem Uysaler, a senior vice president of customer experience for Citi, and Patricia John, the customer experience director for Europcar UK (a car rental agency).
Right at the end of the session, Patricia responded to an audience question by saying that Europcar focused on creating a customer-centric culture because they can’t script every interaction. Therefore, employees need to be able to make the right judgment calls on their own when dealing with customers (or anything having to do with customers, which includes virtually everything a company does).
Patricia John is right. At Forrester, we see this dynamic time and again through our research. For example, every time I see USAA’s Wayne Peacock speak, he always uses the phrase, “We do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.” That’s extremely credible coming from Wayne: He’s the EVP of Member Experience at USAA, which is the number one bank, the number one credit card provider, and the number one insurance provider in our Customer Experience Index.
You, too, probably see this dynamic because it plays out in the news every day. Just compare the decision made by a Southwest Airlines pilot to the decisions made by some United Airlines employees.
It’s that time of the year again . . . Most of you are well into (if not done with) your 2013 planning — and at Forrester, we’ve also got our eyes on the year ahead.
Ron Rogowski and I have been engaging our fellow analysts in lively conversations about what will happen in the field of customer experience (CX) in 2013. But before we tell you what we think, we want to get your perspective on what 2013 will bring. So here’s your chance for fame and fortune — or at least the opportunity to be mentioned in a Forrester report! If your ideas or comments contribute to our final analysis, we’ll add you as a contributor to the research.
Specifically, we’d love to know:
What will be your biggest CX challenges next year?
What are your most important CX initiatives and priorities for the next 12 months?
What are your predictions for the field of CX in 2013?
I was both encouraged and perplexed by an article in The Wall Street Journal that described the internal debate at Bank of America over how to grow revenue. One side of the debate wants to charge new fees for basic services like checking accounts. And who do they want to charge? Their unprofitable customers who “typically have less than $50,000 in annual household income.” Those customers do little business with the bank, and Bank of America reportedly loses a couple of hundred dollars a year on them.
The other side of the debate wants to raise revenues by getting these unprofitable customers to buy more financial products from the bank — for example, get a credit card or buy a CD or take out a mortgage. If that happened, the problematic customers would generate enough revenue to become a money-making proposition for Bank of America.
If I were picking the winner of this debate, the decision would be easy. A growth plan that depends on extracting ever-increasing fee revenue from the very people who can least afford to pay it – for services that were formerly free – doesn’t seem like a growth plan at all. But getting a bigger share of those same customers’ wallets by selling them products that they’re going to buy from someone is a strategy that’s already working today for a bank that I’ll talk about in a minute.
The real question in this debate should be, how can Bank of America get its unprofitable customers to do more business with it? The answer: Provide a vastly improved customer experience — toe-dipping will not get the job done.