The Race From Good To Great CX Hits The Gas Pedal In 2015

Michael Gazala
2014 wasn’t a good year to be average. Since 2007, the average customer experience in the industries that Forrester tracks has gone up across the board, and the number of truly awful  experiences has dropped like a rock. So if your CX is average, it’s just not good enough to win, serve and retain customers. And it won’t get any easier next year: With companies investing more than ever to differentiate their customer experience, your average offering will soon be considered poor.
 
In 2015, the race from good to great CX will hit the gas pedal. Smart CX teams will increasingly use customer data from diverse sources like social listening platforms, campaign management platforms, mobile apps and loyalty programs – to personalize and tailor experiences in real time so that they inherently adapt to the needs, wants, and behaviors of individual customers. And as companies strive to break from the pack and gain a competitive edge through the quality of the CX they provide, we’ll see the battleground shift to new areas like emotional experiences and extended CX ecosystems, and into laggard industries like health insurance and TV service providers, and even the Federal government.
 
As we do every year, we’ve just published our Predictions report for CX. I want to share a couple of those predictions with you:
 
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Turn your customer loyalty strategic plan into an action plan

Emily Collins

Blogged in collaboration with Samantha Ngo, Senior Research Associate, serving Customer Insights professionals.

Even if you have a clear idea of where you want to end up, the route you take to customer loyalty isn't always straightforward. Outlining a strategic plan helps you understand what you need to do, but a roadmap identifies howwhen and with what resources you should tackle each step. Forrester believes there are six components to designing an effective loyalty roadmap:

  1. Time frame: The expected completion of tasks and delivery of results.
  2. Desired outcomes: Key performance indicators (KPIs)that help you benchmark the performance of your advancing strategy based on your maturity.
  3. Strategic themes: A summary of the objectives an organization needs to advance its strategy.
  4. Key steps: The specific tasks — pulled straight from the strategic plan — which an organization must complete to graduate to the next maturity level.
  5. Dependencies: The people, process, and technology required to execute the key steps. Changes to the current approach may require acquiring new team members, implementing formal processes, or buying loyalty technology.
  6. Investment level: Where and when the allocated loyalty budget will be spent.
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It's time to fall back on the loyalty basics

Emily Collins

Blogged in collaboration with Samantha Ngo, Senior Research Associate, serving Customer Insights professionals.

As a kid, I loved going back to school. The beginning of September always meant new classes, new classmates, and of course new notebooks, pens, and pencils. And even though I’m not in school anymore, I still see September as an opportunity to turn over a new leaf, and approach things — both personally and professionally — with a fresh perspective. So, in honor of the first few weeks of Fall, let’s all take some time to study the loyalty basics. Process, while not the most exciting aspect of loyalty marketing, is necessary for building a sound foundation. Without processes, your ability to execute on your loyalty strategy is shaky at best and sudden changes to the market or unforeseen obstacles may leave you in disarray.

To avoid loyalty strategy failure, you must streamline processes around these three objectives:

  1. Building a deep understanding of customer needs and motivations. Loyalty starts with knowing your best customers and asking for their input. But, if gathering data from your customers, make sure you use it. They will expect it.
  2. Preparing for relentless adjustment. Digital business is booming, and loyalty can’t miss out on opportunities to innovate. Test and learn new customer engagement tactics on a small scale. Don’t be complacent with your strategy, but don’t over spend on improvements that won’t last.
  3. Establishing enterprise wide alignment. Do you know who your key internal stakeholders are? Identify them then build teams and processes to help create seamless customer experience.
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You just found out you’re a loyalty laggard. Now what?

Emily Collins

Blogged in collaboration with Samantha Ngo, Senior Research Associate, serving Customer Insights professionals.

After taking the customer loyalty assessment, you know whether you’re a laggard, learner, leader, or legend:

Great, but you’re probably thinking "Where do we go from here?" You need a game plan that clearly identifies where and how improvements should be made. To do so, take the gaps in your current approach and prioritize your tasks based on whether each one is a:

  • Need to have. These are non-negotiable tasks that will make or break your graduation to the next maturity level.
  • Want to have. These are important, but not critical tasks for taking your maturity to the next level.
  • Nice to have. These tasks come in handy for differentiating your loyalty approach, but have little bearing on your maturity level.

Priorities will differ for each stage of loyalty maturity and I lay out examples of these needs, wants, and nice to haves in my recent report, Craft A Customer Loyalty Strategy That Raises Your Maturity. Do you have a plan?

Taking Loyalty Beyond The Program

Emily Collins

I really enjoyed sharing insights about loyalty in the Age of the Customer at Forrester's Customer Experience Forum East back in June. I got some great questions from the audience about how to start planning and advancing their loyalty strategy. Next up, I'll be continuing the conversations at Forrester's Customer Experience Forum West in Anaheim, CA, November 6-7. And, a few weeks later I'll also be at our EMEA Customer Experience Forum, November 17-18 in London. Here's a sneak peek of the content I'll be sharing at my track session. I hope to see you there!

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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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The Landscape Of Loyalty Providers: Everything But The Kitchen Sink?

Emily Collins

I field a lot of inquires from clients in various stages of loyalty vendor selection projects. Some come with a tightly defined short list, but more often than not, they aren't even sure where to start. Customer loyalty initiatives take several forms including highly structured programs and loosely tied customer service, marketing, and product development tactics spread throughout the organization. As such, vendors of all types -- from loyalty-specific service providers and platforms to customer engagement agencies and analytics service providers -- bring loyalty strategy, management, and marketing chops to the table: 

Loyalty provider categories

With so many different providers knocking on their door, it's no surprise that marketers feel overwhelmed by the selection process. My most recent report cuts through the clutter by organizing loyalty providers into categories based on their core offerings and delivery models. But, before you start dropping vendor names into a shortlist, you first must answer these three questions:

  • How does your company approach loyalty? Take stock of your existing retention tactics and how customers currently interact with your products, services, and brand. Outlining your organization’s approach will help you select new partners but also potentially enrich relationships with existing partners.
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Do you have what it takes to be a loyalty legend?

Emily Collins

There are more than a few loyalty-esque proverbs that float around marketing departments and boardrooms everywhere: "repeat customers spend more," "it costs five times more to acquire a customer than to retain a customer,"  "80% of your revenue is driven by 20% of your customer base." If you are reading this blog post, chances are that you have uttered at least one of these phrases at some point in your career. But, if you've ever tried to put your money where your mouth is, you also know that achieving true customer loyalty requires strategic alignment, deliberate planning, and financial and cultural commitments. Loyalty is both behavioral and emotional, and companies that really want to compete for their customers’ loyalty need an evolved approach that extends beyond the program.

To help you understand where your loyalty strategy stacks up, Forrester has developed new self-assessments that examine loyalty from two points of view: the business' and the member's:

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Perking Up Your Loyalty Program Benefits Is As Easy As A-B-C

Emily Collins

Consumers and marketers don't always see eye to eye when it comes to customer loyalty programs. Consumers tell us they enroll in programs for the points, discounts, and savings, while companies tell us boosting customer engagement is a top goal for their loyalty programs. Sixty-seven percent of consumers consider themselves active in programs they join, yet the marketers who run loyalty programs report that only 16% of customers are active program participants. Regardless of which camp you fall into, one thing is clear: a program is only as strong as the members who participate in it. And, the value exchange a program creates is central to attracting members today and getting them to come back tomorrow, next month, and next year.

But, choosing program benefits can create some anxiety. Marketers need a mix of rewards that satisfies consumers' desire for savings while encouraging deeper engagement, and acknowledging/recognizing customer value. Forrester clients often ask me questions like "What can we offer besides points?," and "How do we make customers feel valued?." The short answer is that there are a lot of options that have varying objectives for the customer:

Table of benefits and customer impact

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Differentiating On The Claims Experience: Why Better Claims Handling Results In Higher Customer Loyalty And Lower Costs

Ellen Carney

For consumers, there are two key insurance moments:  when coverage is bought and then when it’s used, with hopefully a long span of time between the two.  And if there is a claim, then it’s up to the insurer to react to help the claimant recover.  But too often, the claims experience spurs policyholders to consider changing insurers, especially among policyholders who’ve been customers longer (and have been paying premiums longer).[i]  What else happens when there’s a policyholder unhappy about a claim?  Claimants readily take to social bully pulpits with their claims grievances, effectively using Twitter and Facebook to “regulate” insurers into action. 

In addition, they also file complaints with state insurance regulators, an activity that about 34,000 US consumers did in 2013.What’s their biggest gripe?  A look at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) stats reveals that 56% of consumer complaints filed in 2013 were issues related to claims handling, with the biggest chunk, 24%, because of perceived delays. And that’s not counting delays associated with getting referrals, pre-authorizations, and finding willing providers.[ii]

Over the past year, I’ve been involved in a variety of client advisories focused on the claims experience for both consumers as well as insurer work teams responsible for getting claims paid.   Why is the claim experience so easy to go off track?  For starters:

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