Here’s an objection I sometimes hear when I talk to people about how improving customer experience can boost business performance: “Sure, it sounds great for glam industries like automotive or fashion. But I sell widgets.”
Okay, it’s fair to say that the business value of CX is more obvious for industries that advertise in magazines with slick, glossy paper. But the reality is that focusing on CX can also do a lot for less sexy industries.
That’s why we invited Olivier Mourrieras of E.On to speak at Forrester’s Forum for Customer Experience Professionals EMEA in London on November 17 and 18, 2014. E.On is one of the world's largest investor-owned electric utility service providers. And even though utilities don’t exactly captivate their customers, E.On has made huge, measured advances in the customer experience it provides, resulting in corresponding improvements to business results.
Olivier recently responded to our questions about what E.On has been doing and how it’s evolved. He gave us such amazingly detailed insight that I’ve broken his answers into two parts, with Part 1 appearing below.
I hope you enjoy what he has to say and I look forward to seeing some of you in London!
Q: When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?
Prior to 2009, customer focus had not been a crucial part of E.ON’s strategy. Customer satisfaction scores were often lower than market average scores across the group resulting in high customer churn.
Thinking you know your customers will no longer cut it when it comes to delivering a top-notch customer experience. To create the most compelling differentiated experiences, firms not only need to know their customers but also understand what their customers care about most.
Siqi Chen, Heyday cofounder and CEO, gets this. The "effortless journaling" app goes the extra mile to deliver a seamless delightful experience — particularly for first-time users "where there aren’t obvious motivations to invest," in Siqi’s words.
I had a chance to sit down with Siqi in advance of his keynote session at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals West to talk about how Heyday competes on experience in the competitive mobile playing field. Hear more of Heyday’s story next month in Anaheim, California, November 6th to 7th.
Q: When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?
A: We focused on the customer experience from the inception of the company. As a mobile company, the way our customers interact with their devices is intensely personal. We run on a device that is the primary computing device for most people, a device that is with our customers physically for most of their waking life and a device that our customers interact with in the most intimate way: through touch. Because of this, great products on mobile devices require a very high bar for attention to detail and emotional value, in addition to the foundations of speed and value delivered that every great product requires.
Q: What aspects of the experience that your company delivers matter most to your customers?
When I was in high school – and admittedly that was quite a while ago — my neighbor quit his job as an insurance salesman to go into the car phone business. My mother couldn’t understand why someone would give up a good, stable job to sell something that she couldn’t imagine anyone ever using. Who would use a car phone? Why would anyone talk on the phone in a car?
Fast forward a few years… (OK, a few more than a few)… and most of us can’t imagine not having our phone with us. We use our phone everywhere… And, yes, according to Forrester’s 2013 Consumer Technographics survey, 68% of US online adults use their phone in the car, and 48% even use their phone from the bathroom. Who’s guilty?! As for my mother, she has still never used an ATM card at a bank and still writes checks for cash at the grocery store, but she DOES have a cell phone and just might have used it in the car once or twice.
It's easy to get swept up in the power of the digital age, where smart mobile devices and cloud services open the door for new and exciting ways to engage customers. We think a lot about how these technologies will create enticing customer experiences (CX), making these digital touchpoints the face of the brand. I admit, as a technology fan, I'm enamored with this idea. But I'm also someone who thinks a lot about technology and the workforce, so I was equally animated by a conversation I recently had with the head of a CX consultancy. He warned that businesses risk over rotating on technology, viewing their people as receding in importance in delivering satisfactory customer experiences. He went on to say that businesses that make this make do so at their own peril. I agree.
I have never put ‘Wow’ into the title of a blog before – but for this one it’s fully justified.
This is the fifth year InfoWorld, Penn State University Center for EA, and Forrester have run the annual Enterprise Architecture Awards. When I compare the winners of five years ago – all excellent EA programs, with this year’s winners and the runner-ups, all I can say is ‘Wow – EA is really advancing’.
I am pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Enterprise Architecture Awards. This year, we have six winning programs – all of which demonstrate leading edge thinking on how they engage with their business, how they provide value, and how they help their business achieve its strategic goals. Here are the winners, selected by a panel of leading EA practitioners drawn previous years’ winners and other excellent programs. (For a more extensive write-up, see the InfoWorld report)
Driving Innovation with Enterprise Architecture
The best way to succeed in Property and Casualty insurance in the US market is to create innovative products and services for unique customer segments, each with a customized customer value proposition. This is the need that Doug Safford, Vice President and Chief Architect pivoted his EA program towards.
While analyzing the survey results for my recent report on the state of customer experience management in India, I noticed a fundamental flaw in the way that Indian organizations approach reporting structures for their customer experience (CX) teams. About a fifth of the organizations we surveyed rely on their customer service department to lead the charge for CX initiatives.
This is detrimental to the growth of CX, as there are basic differences between the scope of work and the skill sets of the two teams. Specifically, customer service teams have limited capabilities and exposure across:
People. While both CX and customer service teams work toward enhancing the experience across the customer life cycle, the customer service team has a somewhat myopic view of customer engagement, focusing predominantly on handling client complaints and resolving queries.
Processes. Forrester defines customer experience as how customers perceive their interactions with a company. The contribution of customer service teams to this process is limited to supporting customer tasks in a few phases of the journey.
Tools. Customer service professionals are responsible for the experience delivered via multiple touchpoints, such as IVR systems, contact centers, and social media. However, other equally important customer interfaces, such as mobile applications, digital kiosks, and eCommerce platforms, fall outside their purview.
Allow me to make a confession: In the debate over whether people are rational or emotional decision-makers, I have persistently seated myself on the rational side of the table. However, recent research has challenged my views. Witnessing cross-discipline academics reinforce the motivating power of emotion has resulted in a general consensus among fellow rationalists that “reason leads to conclusions; emotion leads to action.”
We are now recognizing the power of emotional decision-making in consumer behavior and — most importantly — the effect that it has on a company’s bottom line. Nothing is more convincing than the data itself. For example, a combination of Forrester's Consumer Technographics® quantitative and qualitative insight shows that when banking providers fail to meet a customer's expectations in moments of high emotional investment, they risk losing that customer altogether:
From the moment they open an account to their on-going interactions with bank employees, customers navigate a series of emotional experiences that directly affect their decision to enhance or withdraw from the brand relationship. Companies that appeal to customer emotions during such engagements master these "moments of truth" and ensure that outcomes are positive — and profitable.
Here at Forrester we are busy planning our upcoming Forum For CIOs And CMOs. With a theme of “Building A Customer-Obsessed Enterprise” the event explores the partnership between marketing and technology leaders. But what about our government clients? The role of marketing is associated with the private sector. Companies employ marketers to identify their target markets and the opportunities for providing goods and services to them. Public-sector organizations don't typically have the luxury of choosing their target market or their products and services. Or at least that’s what most organizations think. But even if that is the case, it doesn't mean that these organizations shouldn't get to know their "customers" and understand how best to meet their needs. While the service might be prescribed by legislation or regulation, public organizations can influence the customer experience, and the rising focus on citizen engagement mandates they do so.
Companies that were founded on customer obsession — like Southwest Airlines, Vanguard, and USAA — derive significant financial benefits as a result. That’s because a customer-obsessed culture helps customer experience professionals deliver high-quality, on-brand, consistent experiences that drive loyalty. Fortunately, even companies that weren’t founded on customer obsession can transform their cultures and see big returns on their efforts. For example:
Tom Feeney, Safelite Autoglass’s chief executive officer (CEO), launched the company’s customer experience transformation in 2008. Since then, the firm has seen NPS, employee engagement, revenue, and profit metrics improve substantially.
Cleveland Clinic embarked on its patient experience transformation in 2009. Since then, it’s seen significant improvements in patient experience ratings, employee engagement scores, and business and operations metrics like number of patients admitted and average wait time to see a doctor.
Today Salesforce.com offered a formal update on its Salesforce Wear offering (which I wrote about at its release here). Salesforce Wear is a set of developer tools and reference applications that allows enterprises to create applications for an array of wearable devices and link them to Salesforce1, a cloud based platform that connects customers with apps and devices.
Salesforce’s entry into the wearables space has been both bold and well-timed. Salesforce Wear constitutes a first mover in the wearables platform space; while Android Wear offers a platform, it only reaches Android Wear based devices – unlike Salesforce Wear, which operates across a wide array of wearable devices. While it’s early to market, it’s not too early: Enterprises in a wide array of verticals are leveraging wearables worn by employees or by customers to redesign their processes and customer experiences, as I have written.