Great Customer Experience, European Style

Harley Manning

I love Europe. I especially love the fact that in a very real sense there is no “Europe” as such: the UK experience is not the German experience, which is not the French experience, which is not the Italian experience, and so on.

Yet all of these countries are so close together that once I’m over there I can visit a variety of very different cultures and architectures more easily than I can travel from Boston to Denver.  And in any given city, just walking between buildings from one business meeting to another can make me feel like I’m on vacation. Then there’s the food…

Although European variety is amazing, it can also create challenges. On a recent trip I was in London, Rome, Milan, and Budapest within a two week period. That often brought me into contact with people in service industries – like taxis, restaurants, and hotels – who had very different ideas of what “service” means than I do.

I began to wonder: Do the locals also find some of this service subpar or am I just being a parochial American? As it turns out, our recent research shows that European customer experience as judged by local customers does vary wildly depending on country and industry, ranging from truly great to truly awful.

Which is one  reason why I’m so excited by Forrester’s upcoming Customer Experience Forum EMEA on November 17 and 18 in London.  We recruited speakers from companies with customers who say that they’re already doing a standout job, as well as speakers from companies that are in the midst of tackling tough CX challenges.

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Video Recap: Day Two Of Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum East 2014

Harley Manning

Last week I blogged a video recap of day one of Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum East, 2014. I had originally planned that post to cover both days of the forum, which has grown to become Forrester’s largest event in our 30+ year history. But at some point I realized that there was just too much material to cram into a single post.

Which led, inevitably, to this post with my video recap of day two.

If you were also at CX East, here’s a reminder of what happened on that second day. And if you weren’t there, here’s a preview of the types of things you’ll see at our Customer Experience West in Anaheim on 11/6 – 11/7 and our Customer Experience Forum EMEA in London on 11/17 – 11/18.

Rick Parrish, Senior Analyst, Forrester

Rick Parrish kicked off the morning with a major update to our research on the customer experience ecosystem, which we define as: The web of relations among all aspects of a company — including its customers, employees, partners, and operating environment — that determine the quality of the customer experience.

That web of relationships often leads to unintended consequences for both frontline employees and customers. Why? Because back office players take well-intentioned but misguided actions – like what happened with the US federal government in this example from Rick. 

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Video Recap: Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum East 2014, Day One

Harley Manning

How did it get to be August already?

Admittedly, going away for two weeks of vacation in July hit my fast forward button. But even so, memories of our Customer Experience Forum East in New York in June are still fresh in my mind.

If you were also at CX East, here’s a reminder of what happened on Day One. And if you weren’t there, here’s a preview of the types of things you’ll see at our Customer Experience West in Anaheim on 11/6 – 11/7, and our Customer Experience Forum EMEA in London on 11/17 – 11/18.

Opening Remarks

Before the event we surveyed our attendees. That let me open the forum by summarizing their challenge: Although their executives’ high aspirations for customer experience do them credit, their success to date lags far behind their goals. 

 

Megan Burns, Vice President and Principal Analyst, Forrester

Megan showed the surprising findings of a recent study on what drives a customer experience that results in customer loyalty. Guess what? For customers of most industries, emotions matter more – often far more – than whether a brand met their needs or he level of effort needed to get their needs met. 

 

Stephen Cannon, President and CEO, Mercedes-Benz, USA

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CX Q&A With Nancy Clark, Senior Vice President — Operational Excellence, Verizon

Harley Manning

There’s a good chance that you’re a Verizon customer. I am; I get my cable TV, Internet access, and home phone service from it.

All in all, there are 130 million of us Verizon customers — and that’s a daunting challenge for Verizon. How do you — how can you — create a high-quality, consistent customer experience for all those people when they’re buying and using such diverse products?

The answer: business process discipline. And that’s why we invited Nancy Clark to speak at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East, 2014. Nancy is Verizon’s senior vice president, operational excellence, a business process maven, and the sharp point of the spear for the company’s customer experience improvement initiative.

Nancy was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about what she’s doing. Read on for insight into how Verizon rose in every category of our Customer Experience Index that it’s in this year.

Those of you who’ll be with us in New York on Tuesday, June 24, can hear even more from Nancy. I hope to see you there!

Q: When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?

A: Verizon’s history dates back more than a century in some parts of our business. Like all good companies, we’ve always had a philosophy of putting the customer first. At the heart of this is a shared credo — our aspirational statement about who we are as a company. It fits on one page, but the word “customer” appears 10 times, and the first line is, “We have work because our customers value what we do.”

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Customer Experience Q&A With Stephen Cannon, President And CEO, Mercedes-Benz USA

Harley Manning

When I was 10 years old, I heard my father and my Uncle Bob talking about the car they’d most like to own. Noticing me, Uncle Bob asked, “How about you, Harley? What car do you want to drive when you grow up?”

I immediately answered, “A Mercedes!”

My father’s eyes widened as Uncle Bob replied, “You have excellent taste.”

Forty years later, Mercedes-Benz still symbolizes “excellent taste” for me and millions of other people around the globe. It’s not just about high quality: The Mercedes brand sets a standard of comparison; it’s shorthand for “great experience” and “luxury.”

And that’s why we’re so excited that Stephen Cannon, the president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, is our lead-off industry speaker at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East next week in New York. Cannon is just perfect as the keynote address for an event with the theme “Good Is Not Good Enough” — because for Mercedes-Benz, just being “good” would be a serious disappointment.

As we approach the event, Stephen was nice enough to answer some of our questions about the Mercedes-Benz customer experience. Check out what he has to say — and I hope we both see you out in the audience next week at the New York Hilton.

Q: When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why? 

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Customer Experience Q&A With John Maeda, Design Demigod

Harley Manning

Okay, maybe “demigod” is a little over the top. But maybe not.

John Maeda is both design partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and chair of the eBay Design Advisory Board, where he collaborates with design leaders across eBay to disseminate design thinking. But that’s just what he’s doing now. He previously served as the president of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and before that, he was a professor and head of research at the MIT Media Lab.

Now where I come from (Cambridge, Massachusetts, these days), RISD and the Media Lab are synonymous with innovative thinking. But eBay already changed the way about 145 million people shop — most people would say that’s already pretty innovative. So how do you improve innovation by disseminating design thinking at eBay?

We wanted to hear John’s thoughts on that topic — and others — so we invited him to speak at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East, 2014. Attendees can hear him talk on Wednesday, June 25th, at the Hilton New York.

In advance of John’s talk, he was kind enough to answer some of our questions about what he’s been doing and why. I hope you enjoy John’s responses, and I look forward to seeing many of you in New York on June 24th and 25th!

Q: When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?

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Customer Experience In Asia Pacific: More Advanced Than You Might Suspect

Harley Manning

For the past two weeks, I’ve been on the other side of the planet, spending a few days each in four very different cities: Sydney, Singapore, Beijing, and Shanghai. While Sydney was much like I remembered it — an exotic version of San Francisco but with better weather — the Singapore skyline had changed drastically and now appears to be a science-fiction version of the seaport I remembered. (If you think I’m kidding, just do a search on “Marina Bay Sands Hotel.”)

In contrast to Sydney and Singapore, I hadn’t been to either Beijing or Shanghai before. I was blown away by how vibrant those cities are and how much prosperity is on display: If the Chinese economy is truly slowing down, you wouldn’t know it from all the luxury cars on the road.

Despite all the diversity I saw on my trip, for me, there was one constant across all four cities: the high level of interest in customer experience.

In Sydney, I gave talks about customer experience to three different groups of 20 to 40 people each. Even though the attendees came from very diverse companies — like insurers, quick-serve restaurants, technology vendors, and giant professional services firms — all three groups asked questions that showed this wasn’t their first CX rodeo. 

I also gave a speech to the digital team at a major bank, and as a bonus, I got to see the company’s chief experience officer give a talk. Frankly, there are a lot of US and European banks that could learn from that large, enthusiastic, clued-in group.

My time in Singapore started out with a customer experience ecosystem mapping workshop for around 35 people. This was also a diverse group, with varying levels of customer experience expertise, even among attendees from the same company. They all picked up on the concepts, though, and generated an impressive amount of insight. 

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Customer Experience Predictions For 2014

Harley Manning

My colleague John Dalton and I recently published a report outlining our major predictions for customer experience in the coming year. What we envision is perhaps best summed up by the old William Gibson quote: “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.”

Here’s why: As I wrote in a recent post, roughly half of the attendees at Forrester’s three customer experience forums in 2013 said that their organizations are in the first phase of the path to CX maturity (repair). Their priority is — and for the immediate future will remain — finding and fixing broken experiences.

A much smaller group of companies — no more than 10% — say that their organizations are in the ultimate phase of CX maturity (differentiate). In contrast with companies in the repair phase, they'll build on their past success with well-funded efforts that leverage their skills in strategy, customer understanding, and design.

With that as background, we predict that two major themes will deserve the most attention in the coming year.

Companies in the repair phase will fight to advance along the path to customer experience maturity. Companies just starting to fix their broken experiences will find themselves in a struggle that's hard, slow, and increasingly costly. They'll focus on getting key infrastructure in place to assess what's broken, manage a portfolio of repair projects, and measure the results they need to build enterprisewide support for CX.

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The Path To Customer Experience Differentiation

Harley Manning

In a previous post, I wrote about speakers at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals EMEA who represented companies in the repair phase of customer experience (CX) maturity. Their mission: find broken experiences, fix them, and measure the results.

Roughly half of companies on the path to customer experience maturity say that they’re in the repair phase today — and that’s probably a conservative estimate. But there are companies at more advanced stages of CX maturity, including a few in the most advanced phase, differentiate. That’s where firms reframe business challenges in the context of unmet customer needs, connect innovation ideas to their customer experience ecosystem, and infuse innovations with the brand.

We had two speakers at our event who represented companies in the differentiate phase: Dean Marshall, director of Lego brand retail store operations Europe, and Declan Collier, CEO, London City Airport. What is it that their organizations do that’s so different?

Lego stores  goes beyond even the typical design best practices used by companies in less advanced (but still pretty advanced!) phases of CX maturity, practices like ethnographic research and co-creation. How? By combining the two.

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Speakers At Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum EMEA Show That They’re On The Path To Customer Experience Maturity

Harley Manning

Last month it was my pleasure to host Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals EMEA in London. The theme for the event was “boost your customer experience to the next level,” which we picked because we know that attendees of our events are at widely (sometimes wildly!) different levels of customer experience maturity.

What is “customer experience maturity”? We define it as the extent to which an organization routinely performs the practices required to design, implement, and manage customer experience in a disciplined way. In other words, does the organization apply the same level of business discipline to customer experience as it does to well-established business practices like marketing, logistics, and accounting?

In our study of how companies become mature at the practices in the customer experience discipline, we’ve discovered that successful firms all follow the same path, which passes through four phases:

  • Repair. Companies find broken experiences, fix them, and measure the results.
  • Elevate. Firms start to adopt practices that lead them to deliver sound experiences in the first place.
  • Optimize. Companies become systematic at customer experience practices.
  • Differentiate. Firms reframe business challenges in the context of unmet customer needs, connect innovation ideas to their customer experience ecosystem, and infuse innovations with the brand.
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