Forrester recently presented our Asia Pacific 2017 Predictions at events across Singapore, Sydney, and Beijing, followed by a webinar earlier this week for customers across the region. We shared our view that businesses today are under attack, but not by their competitors. They are under attack from their customers. Three years ago, Forrester identified a major shift in the market, ushering in the age of the customer. Power has shifted away from companies and towards digitally savvy, technology-empowered customers who now decide winners and losers.
Our Empowered Customer Segmentation shows that consumers in Asia Pacific are evolving — and becoming more empowered — along five key dimensions. These five key shifts explain changing consumption trends and lead to a sense of customer empowerment: Consumers are increasingly willing to experiment, reliant on technology, inclined to integrate digital and physical experiences, able to handle large volumes of information, and determined to create the best experiences for themselves.
Employees are the lifeblood of a customer-obsessed enterprise. No matter how advanced a company's technology, how big its data, or how trendy it’s marketing, businesses today simply cannot succeed without employees who devote themselves to customers. However, many companies struggle to build a customer-obsessed workforce because they:
Hire for skills and experience. Siloed hiring managers focus primarily on job candidates' technical skills and experience and seek little input from applicants' potential colleagues. Knowing how well candidates can code, lift boxes, or write marketing copy is important. However, skillset alone doesn't tell employers if applicants are willing and able to use their skills and cooperate with their coworkers in customer-obsessed ways.
Have weak training programs. Most training programs consist of long and dry classroom, online, and coaching sessions rather than short and engaging sound bites that employees can access when they need to. Even worse, training focuses solely on employees' job responsibilities, businesses processes, and operation of technical systems — topics that rarely help employees become more customer-obsessed.
Fail to recognize and reward customer obsession. Our data shows that although 42% of companies claim that excellent customer treatment is one of their core values, only one-third of companies actually hold employees accountable and tie employees' incentives to customer experience (CX) metrics.
Leading through change requires that right mix of imagination, inspiration, and gritty execution. And we are in a world of change. Empowered customers and the constant and rapid wave of digital innovation are changing market fundamentals. Leaders are now challenged to respond.
I had the pleasure of hosting a discussion with James McQuivey, Carl Doty, and Sam Stern to talk leadership in the age of the customer. Our conversation covered a range of topics from having the wisdom to see the market for what it is versus how we would like the market to act to putting in motion strategic and operational change that is necessary, new, and risky. Here are the five takeaways:
The customer is in motion. Customers rapidly adopt — and rapidly abandon — technologies, services, and brands. That is wonderful and scary thing. It creates new possibilities. But it also redefines the norms for churn where a decision to shift spend is made by a single experience — good or bad. This dynamic can represent a major threat to growth if companies need to absorb 10%+ churn.
The pace of business – heck, the pace of life, gets faster and faster. Faster processing, faster delivery, faster innovation – and faster adoption and abandonment of that innovation -- is the reality we all live in today.
Leaders run fast businesses to win and to stay apace or in front of dynamic customers and disruptive competitive forces. They can’t out-slow the competition. Speed is the only option.
I had the pleasure of participating in a webinar panel to discuss what it means to work at one speed (fast) versus at two speeds as bimodal IT advocates. We discussed why businesses are forced to go fast, the reality and downside of a bimodal IT strategy, and the strategies and approaches to winning based on speed. Here is a quick view of the ground we covered.
The first part of our discussion focused on the factors that are making companies operate at fast speeds. Broadly, it comes down to three factors:
Hyper-adoption and hyper-abandonment: Customers are willing to rapidly try, use, and then possibly discard content, apps, and services in a world of seemingly infinite choices and extremely low cost to entry and exit. This dynamic fundamentally changes – speeds up – what it means to “have” a customer.
CEOs and their leadership teams are at a crossroads as technology underpins virtually all customers' expectations and unlocks new sources of customer value. The choice is rather straightforward: invest heavily in business technology (BT) to win, serve, and retain customers, or flounder under the weight of legacy IT.
This is no time to hedge. Strategies like bimodal IT that advocate for silos and two operating speeds may appeal to risk-averse leaders, but bimodal won't get the job done. In fact, it works directly against the key operating principles of customer-obsessed firms in B2B and B2C industries like General Electric, Netflix, and USAA. These firms and other leaders use the customer as the central design point for their business technology strategy and strive to be:
The transfer of power from companies to the customer is driving a wide variety of changes: some small and targeted and some that are far-reaching and fundamentally change the trajectory of companies (and careers, I may add).
I had the pleasure of moderating a video webinar last week that explored the customer dynamic, specifically looking at how it will play out in 2016. We also looked at how companies sense and respond to this dynamic change: how well companies are reading the tea leaves and taking action and what actions seem to matter to compete and win in a customer-led market.
I had a blast moderating this panel with Sharyn Leaver, Michelle Moorehead, and Harley Manning. If you saw it live or on-demand, I hope you had a blast as well and took something away that can make a difference for your company and yourself.
We captured the webinar through a thought-illustration that provides an artistic touch to a great conversation.
It’s complex, right? There are a lot of moving pieces, big ideas, and really big decisions. So let’s break it down:
A few weeks ago, I learned that my credit card number was part of a large data breach and that I needed to cancel it immediately. My first thought? Panic and trepidation — what if someone already charged on my card? What about the companies that I have recurring payments with — will they reject them and charge me fees? How do I remember all of the companies with which I even have recurring payments?
As all of these questions entered my mind and I started questioning my loyalty to Capital One, I received the following email (pictured) explaining what I needed to do as a customer and the companies that I needed to contact:
Capital One not only provided immediate relief but also demonstrated awareness of my individual profile and what could make or break my specific customer experience. It implemented personalization at a critical "moment of truth."
Since I first became the research director of the Security & Risk team more than five years ago, security leaders have lamented the difficulty of aligning with the business and demonstrating real business value. Over the years, we’ve written an enormous amount of research about formal processes for aligning with business goals, provided key metrics to present to the board, and developed sophisticated models for estimating security ROI. Yet for many, demonstrating real business value continues to be a significant challenge. If it wasn’t for the 24 hour news cycle and a parade of high profile security breaches, chances are good, that security budgets would have been stagnant the last few years.
Digital technologies have shifted control into the hands of your customers. Your customers are now independent, active agents in everything, from selecting the channels and platforms they prefer, to the very definition of your brands. As CIO, you’re in an enviable position and are more essential to your firm’s success than ever. You have the technology know-how to tap into these digital technologies. And together with your CMO, you can lead your firm to become customer obsessed and create the digital experiences that win, serve, and retain customers. But you have to be willing to change the way you work.
CIOs of customer obsessed firms must embrace an accelerated pace of change and reinvention, for themselves and their organizations. But years of radical IT outsourcing have denuded many technology management organizations. In fact, Forrester's Q1 2015 Digital Experience Delivery Survey found that the top barrier to success was a lack of resources. So your first order of business as CIO? Invest heavily in new skills:
Software engineering.Software (and how well it does or doesn’t perform) underpins the brand for digital businesses, making core software development and delivery skills paramount to your firm’s future success. Agile methods, continuous-delivery techniques, and product management skills will be critical – not just in pockets, but scaled up to address all software engineering needs.
There are some simple guidelines to help measure where you are on the journey:
Where is your innovation happening? Innovate at the point of customer interactions – digital value is determined by how used the innovation is. There is no better way for CIOs to be part of the age of the customer than to deliver digital innovation when and where the customer needs it. The complexity of how to build enterprise-wide digital engagement can only be answered by having a strong BT agenda powered by BT professionals who think and act in an agile, iterative manner. Your customers will engage your enterprise in many different ways: if you are not building an adaptive experience for them they will move on no matter how good your products may be. This type of measurement approach is critical to realizing the effect of the digital experience you are building. In the end, the only thing that truly matters is how your customers are engaging your enterprise.