CX Q&A with Raul Leal, CEO, Virgin Hotel Group

John Dalton

On just about anyone’s shortlist of companies that deliver unique, high-quality experiences, you’d be sure to find Virgin.  And this year, the iconic brand opened its first hotel in the US – a 250-room property located in the Chicago Loop.  How does Virgin Hotel live up to the high standards set by other Virgin businesses?  At Forrester’s Forum for Customer Experience Professionals in New York, June 16 & 17, Raul Leal, CEO, Virgin Hotel Group, will explain.  In the meantime, he shared with us a few thoughts about CX, the hospitality industry, and what it’s like to work for a knight.  Enjoy!  And I look forward to seeing you in NYC . . .

Q: In your industry, switching costs are pretty low. Indeed, one of the things that impresses me about the first Virgin Hotel in Chicago, is how reasonably priced the rooms are!  Is that why CX is so important to Virgin?

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Contact Centers Must Go Digital Or Die

Kate Leggett

Customers are impatient with poor service. They want an accurate, relevant, and complete answer to their question upon first contact so they can get back to what they were doing before the issue arose. Forrester data shows that 55% of US online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question.77% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service.

It's no surprise that our recent survey data shows that customers of all ages are increasingly using self-service channels (web, mobile, IVR)  for a first point of contact for customer service. In fact, for the first time in the history of our survey, respondents reported using the FAQ pages on a company's website more often than speaking with an agent over the phone. Self-service gives you that "pain-free" or effortless experience that consumers want. Customers escalate the harder questions to a live agent - whether its chat, email or a phone agent - and these calls become opportunities to help build stronger relationships with your customers to garner their long-term loyalty.

But contact centers are not delivering to expectations. We find that:

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What's New With Customer Feedback Management (CFM) Vendors: A CX Pro's Guide To The Evolved CFM Vendor Landscape

Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian

Forrester published a new report with highlights of changes among customer feedback management (CFM) vendors to give you the crucial insights you need to understand your CFM options. Why? Since the 2014 reports on the VoC vendor landscape and VoC vendor go-to-market strategies, we saw some big changes in the CFM market. Many changes are good news for CX pros who are looking to support their enterprisewide VoC and CX measurement efforts. But they don't make navigating this market any easier. 

 

Key changes in the CFM market include:

  • Consolidation of established CFM vendors. CFM vendor Mindshare acquired Empathica in September 2013 and then relaunched the newly combined company in June 2014 under the name InMoment. Maritz Holdings acquired Allegiance and merged it with Maritz Research to launch MaritzCX in January 2015.

  • Entry of new CFM vendors. Clarabridge, formerly a specialist vendor that focused on text analytics, moved into the CFM category by adding significant capabilities to support all stages of the VoC cycle through a combination of an acquisition and native development. Qualtrics, formerly a survey platform specialist, entered the CFM category by adding capabilities to interpret unstructured feedback and act on VoC.

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How Much Are Bad Customer Experiences Hurting Your Business? Forrester’s CX Index™ Knows

Roxana Strohmenger

We have all experienced it — a bad customer experience. Websites like Consumerist.com describe in empathy-inducing detail the “turmoil” that consumers experience, whether it be a customer having tape-recorded proof of a promise of service but the company stating they made no such promise or a company cancelling thousands of reward accounts due to insufficient proof of age, despite the inability of the customer to insert the required information.

When reading these stories, I always wonder, “Why is Company X not getting it?” Bad customer experiences are financially damaging to a company. However, what I have learned over the years, especially when talking to my colleagues on Forrester’s CX team, is that fixing customer experience is hard work. Customer experience requires sustainable discipline, investment, and a repeatable system of measurement — and most companies do not know where to start or how to get better.

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New Research On Making The Case For CX In B2B — Be Part Of This Research

Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian

Deanna Laufer and I are collaborating on a new report on how to make the case for customer experience in B2B. And we'd love your inputs.

How will clients benefit from this report? 

With longer sales cycles, fewer customer accounts, and an abundance of client roles and influencers, B2B companies are challenged in making the link between improving customer experience (CX) and financial results. But without this link, B2B companies will struggle to get adequate funding to sustain their CX programs over the long term. To help CX professionals at B2B companies overcome challenges to justifying their CX programs, this report will explore:

  • What do customer and business data CX pros need to collect to support their business cases?
  • Which are the right metrics for modeling the relationship between customer experience quality and business success?
  • How can CX pros apply their models to proactively improve business outcomes?
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Introducing... Forrester's CX Cast

Deanna Laufer

That's right, Forrester's Customer Experience team is jumping on the podcasting bandwagon and launching a weekly CX podcast! Each week me and my cohost, Senior Analyst Sam Stern, will be speaking with an analyst from our team about their hot-off-the-press research or discussing relevant CX topics in the news. We'll package these up in easily digestible 10 to 20 minute episodes and best of all, these podcasts are available to everyone.

In our first episode, Sam interviews me about how to build a shared customer experience vision. You can listen below, but we recommend you subscribe on iTunes or through your favorite iPhone podcasting app by searching for "Forrester's CX Cast" so you never miss an episode. If you need help accessing or subscribing to the podcast, please contact our producer Curt Nichols at cnichols@forrester.com.

Happy listening!

Start Planning To Provide Social Customer Support Beyond Twitter and Facebook

Ian Jacobs

Industry analysts travel—a lot. It is, therefore, no surprise that I care deeply about airlines’ frequent flyer programs and track the changes to those programs as closely as baseball obsessives track star players’ slugging percentages. When I want information on what these changes mean practically in my situation (Will the new loyalty program make it harder for a 75k+ elite member looking to book a companion ticket’s upgrade on an alliance partner airline, for example), I typically do not turn directly to the airline. Instead, I log on to Flyertalk, a forum that bills itself as “the largest expert travel community.” The forum—populated by thousands of frequent fliers far more obsessive than I will ever be—consistently houses discussions of exactly the thing I want to know.

The lion’s share of people answering questions on Flyertalk and other forums like it—Cruisecritic for the cruising fans, TripAdvisor for travel and hospitality broadly, AutomotiveForums for car enthusiasts, etc.—are other consumers, albeit well-informed ones. But these non-brand controlled communities provide opportunities to brands to differentiate themselves through service.  Because affinity communities have barriers to entry, including registrations and jargon, community members are usually deeply interested in the topic at hand. In communities that regularly discuss brands, these customers are also more likely to be exactly the type of high-value customers that companies want to provide with great customer experiences. But brands need to decide when and how to engage customers in these forums they do not control.

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TCS’ CrewCollab Solution Fills a Gap In Airlines’ Digital Transformation Journey

Fred Giron

Earlier this week, TCS launched its CrewCollab Solution at the Singapore Aviation Festival. The sector has attracted a lot of investments from service providers lately with companies like NIIT Technologies, Pactera, Hexaware and others strengthening their portfolio of software assets for airlines. The TCS CrewCollab mobile solution – co-developed in partnership with Singapore Airlines – fills an important gap in the digital transformation strategy of airlines globally. Why is that?

  • The in-flight experience remains disjointed from the rest of the customer journey. Airlines like Delta, United and Emirates have already invested in developing successful digital customer experience initiatives covering the pre- and post-flight phases of the customer journey. However, airlines typically struggle understanding and serving their customers as they board the flight, customer data being seldom available to the cabin crew.
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Understand The Promise Of Real-time Speech Analytics To Prepare To Overcome A (Large) Budget Hurdle

Ian Jacobs

“With the gift of listening comes the gift of healing.”

-Catherine de Hueck Doherty

We’ve all heard the canned notifications when we call companies for customer service: “this call may be recorded for security or quality purposes.” Most customer service organizations today record their phone interactions with their customers. Often those recordings just sit untouched on the digital equivalent of a dusty shelf in a storage closet. The recordings are there to ensure regulatory compliance or, in rare cases, to be pulled off the shelf in case of a major dispute with a customer.  In essence, the part of the notification about security rings true; the quality part, not so much.

But, as part of continuous improvement programs, companies have begun to change that by actually analyzing the recordings for quality purposes. That process of quality monitoring allows firms to select recordings for review and assessment. In forward-thinking organizations, the tools enable managers to replay agent screen actions, allowing evaluations to include screen activity in addition to voice content. Managers use these reviews to pinpoint which agents perform well, which need further training, and to identify processes that need to be refined.

Companies doing this basic form of quality monitoring, however, find they cannot change the outcome of those calls — the interactions are long since over. This is where the emerging field of real-time speech analytics comes into play. Vendors of real-time speech analytics tools promise to allow companies to intervene at the moment of truth, while the customer and the contact center agent are still talking.

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Embrace Shared Services To Improve Outcomes–Not Only For Cost Savings

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

The perennial call for public sector reform has not slackened. The pain of austerity measures and the pressures for increased efficiency heighten that call.  And, the hype around “smart cities” amps up the pressure for municipal leaders faced with decisions about which problems to attack first, and which tools are most appropriate.  But most organizations are not starting from a clean slate. That’s exactly the issue. In most cases we’re talking about reform, about doing things differently, not starting from scratch. 

When we asked government leaders what their top priorities are, improving the customer experience comes in on top: 68% report the customer experience is either a high or critical priority.  But reducing costs is right up there with it. That’s the age-old do-more-with-less mantra.  And, from a technology perspective their top priority is to upgrade or replace legacy systems, which might not sound like the wiz bang “smart” technology we’ve been hearing so much about.  But it’s likely the smartest thing these governments can do; and when they do, they should do it together. 

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