I’m excited to finally be able to talk publicly about our CX Forum East in New York at the end of June. The theme this year is “Boost Your Customer Experience To The Next Level.” We picked that theme because ever since last fall when we published Outside In, our book about customer experience, people have been asking us to show them how to either get started on the path to CX maturity or accelerate their progress. This forum is all about helping people create customized roadmaps for their organizations.
Megan Burns will kick off the first day of the event with a speech about “The Path To Customer Experience Maturity.” The speech will debut new research about companies that successfully adopted new competencies and changed employee behavior. Attendees will be the first ones to get copies of Megan’s new report that details her findings – I’m editing the report and I am really jazzed about what she’d discovering.
Kerry Bodine, my co-author for Outside In, will kick off the second day of the event with a speech about customer experience innovation. Her speech will also be based on new research. She’ll detail her findings into what distinguishes incremental CX improvements from true innovations. She’ll also describe how companies can create innovation engines within their organizations – the “road map” for the advanced class. For those of you who want to leap ahead of the pack and truly differentiate through customer experience, this is a “must see” presentation.
As an avid personal investor I’m often appalled by cable shows that report on the markets as if they were non-stop sporting events. Seriously, how many people care how the NASDAQ or the Dow are doing on any given minute of any given day? But apparently there are enough day traders out there that noon reports from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange are as compelling as half-time reports during the NFL playoffs.
I have to confess that there is one piece of financial analysis that I do look forward to – though in my defense, this is an annual occurrence and not an hourly update. The analysis comes from Jon Picoult, a gentleman who runs Watermark Consulting.
For a while now Jon has been taking the data from Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CXi) and using it to do a thought experiment. In this experiment he looks at what would have happened if, back when we first published the CXi, an investor had taken two equal buckets of money and created two U.S. stock portfolios. The first portfolio would have consisted of the top 10 publicly traded companies in our index (the customer experience leaders). The second portfolio would have consisted of the bottom 10 publicly traded companies in the index (the customer experience laggards).
In Jon’s model the investor would have held each portfolio for a year, then sold them both and taken his profits (or losses). He would have then used the proceeds to purchase the new year’s leaders and the new year’s laggards, continuing this cycle of selling and buying for all six years that the CXi has been in existence.
Intriguing, right? Even those of us who believe in the business value of customer experience (or in my case can prove it through research) don’t normally look at the impact on stock performance.
There are six award categories for the Outside In Awards:
Best customer experience strategy.
Best customer understanding program.
Best customer experience design.
Best customer experience measurement program.
Best customer experience governance program.
Most customer-centric culture.
You can find all of the information you need on our Outside In Awards home page. The 2013 nomination forms are all available there, and nominations are due by 5:00 p.m. ET on May 3rd. You can also review this year's timeline, get answers to FAQs, and check out information about past customer experience award winners.
It disappoints me when customer experience (CX) professionals at business-to-business (B2B) companies won’t even consider CX practices from business-to-consumer (B2C) companies.
Sure, B2B firms can learn a lot from other B2B firms: Cisco has an amazing voice of the customer program, Boeing does great work conducting field studies of its customers, and Adobe has a notable CX governance practice. But unless B2B customer experience practitioners want to run the CX race with one foot in a bucket, they should also learn strategy from Holiday Inn and Burberry, customer understanding from Vanguard and Virgin Mobile Australia, and design practices from Fidelity and the Spanish bank BBVA — the list of relevant B2C case studies goes on and on.
There are two reasons why B2B companies should take this advice to heart. First, no industry has anything close to a monopoly on best practices. So unless companies cast a wide net, they’re cutting themselves off from lessons that could give them an edge over their navel-gazing competitors. Secondly, every customer that B2B companies serve is not only a businessperson but also a consumer, one who has his or her expectations set by daily interactions with Amazon, Apple, Starbucks, and Zappos. And those B2B customers no longer lower their expectations when they go to work — especially because work now gets interspersed with their personal lives.
I didn't get the chance to jot down my thoughts after a couple of days at IBM Pulse last week but I didn't want to not share my observations and thoughts. So here we go as I fly off to itSMF Norway's annual conference ... It's somewhat random but what did you expect from me? A Katy Perry inspired title?
My view of the IBM Pulse keynotes …
The IBM keynotes covered many of the things you would expect (see my pics below) such as: big data, cloud, mobile, smart-things, and big data. And did I mention big data? It's a key challenge/opportunity for IBM and its customers.
What really resonated with me during the keynotes, however, was not big data but the use of a certain lexicon – with words like "value," "customer-centricity," business outcomes," and even "Outside-In." It was my first proper IBM Pulse so I was unsure whether this was the norm or whether IBM has started "thinking outside the data center" – a criticism I have previously used with other vendors.
Given IBM's traditional focus on enterprise-spanning deals and business, rather than IT challenges/opportunities, it's probably the former but IMO a key part of helping enterprise IT organizations support their customers is IT service management (ITSM). And IBM despite having a fit for purpose ITSM offering and probably thousands of ITSM "experts" throughout its organization has just not been in people's minds and ITSM conversations the last two years.
IBM markets at the enterprise level and this means many potential customers don't think “IBM” and then think “ITSM” (or the reverse) as they would with other ITSM tool vendors. It might seem a harsh thing to say but I believe it to be the reality. I think this might be about to change though – I'll come back to this after a quick detour.
Last month, I was in Europe with a group of customer experience professionals from various divisions of the same large company. Although their expertise was at varying levels, no one was clueless, and everyone seemed highly motivated. About halfway through the all-day session, one of the attendees asked me a question that I’m going to paraphrase here.
After some preamble about the pressures the company was under to increase revenue and profits, he asked, “Given that, when should we put aside the need for profits and fund customer experience projects instead?”
His question surprised me. And I clearly surprised him when I responded, “Never.” I let that hang in the air for a moment so that it could sink in. Then I added, “You should never put aside the need for profits when you fund customer experience projects.”
I could see that people were a little confused, so I went on. “You should only fund customer experience projects that will produce profits. That’s why you do those projects in the first place. And if you have other kinds of projects that will produce better business results, do them instead. But if you take the time to create the business models for your CX projects, you’ll probably find that they’ll produce better ROI than most of the initiatives they’re competing against.”
To be clear, the guy who had asked the question seemed very bright and had a lot of expertise in his area (metrics and measurement). But he had fallen into the same trap that so many customer experience advocates fall into. He wasn’t thinking of improving customer experience as a path to achieving business results. Instead, he was thinking of it just as a generally good thing to do for customers (which it is, but that’s not why you should do it).
You can guess where I stand on this otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this blog and others like it ...
Yesterday I was a guest speaker in an Axios webinar, called “Using ITSM to Increase Business User Satisfaction and the Perception of IT,” during which we ran four audience polls. I thought it would be great to share the poll results and my thoughts.
The webinar story arc …
I set the scene using many of my favorite graphics including the following which shows the gulf between the business’ and IT’s own opinions of how well the average internal IT organizations is doing …
… Before starting to look at how what we do and measure either increases or decreases the customer experience – including the fact that we often seem to be too focused on what we do in IT rather than what we achieve through what we do in IT (and IT service management (ITSM)). I also included a section on common metrics issues which I’ve previous blogged on here and here; and the customer experience work of my Forrester colleagues and its applicability to internal IT.
The poll results and my thoughts …
1. Do you consider the people that consume your IT services to be:
A Forrester-client inquiry call last night and the creation of some slides for a webinar with Axios really got me thinking about how we measure our success in IT. It just seemed so easy to take the IT version of success (and the associated measures) and create a snide customer retort. It’s a little tongue-in-cheek but please take a read of one of my Axios slides:
I'm sure there are many more to play with.
If you read my blogs on a regular basis you will have seen:
My most popular blog of 2012 wasn’t written by me … but I guess you might have expected this if you’ve already read a few. That blog's author, an end-user (or is that a customer of an internal IT organization), now returns to look at the IT service desk through a customer and customer experience lens. I’ll let them continue in their own words …
So how is your customer experience?
It’s never been more important to build strong customer relationships (regardless of what type of service you're offering). Long gone are the days when the customer purchasing path was straight-forward, and when the only route of post-sales contact was the phone. In 2013, we need to be proactive and embrace consumer-driven change, harnessing the power of new technologies as well as improving older methods of contact.
Whether your interactions with customers are face-to-face, via the internet including social media, or over the phone; and whether they involve physical or virtual products; they now need to generate a good “experience” for customers. In the age of the “empowered customer” failure to manage these “experiences” can lead to missed opportunities and/or customer loss. And not just with the affected customer(s).
So what is “customer experience” and could it apply to IT service desks?
Forrester’s definition is simple: “How customers perceive their interactions with your company.” So for an IT service desk, could it be: “How end users perceive their interactions with your service desk”? And if so, how do you deliver this increasingly critical “customer experience”?
Recently I was on a panel about the impact of cultural change on customer experience. My fellow panelists included Meltem Uysaler, a senior vice president of customer experience for Citi, and Patricia John, the customer experience director for Europcar UK (a car rental agency).
Right at the end of the session, Patricia responded to an audience question by saying that Europcar focused on creating a customer-centric culture because they can’t script every interaction. Therefore, employees need to be able to make the right judgment calls on their own when dealing with customers (or anything having to do with customers, which includes virtually everything a company does).
Patricia John is right. At Forrester, we see this dynamic time and again through our research. For example, every time I see USAA’s Wayne Peacock speak, he always uses the phrase, “We do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.” That’s extremely credible coming from Wayne: He’s the EVP of Member Experience at USAA, which is the number one bank, the number one credit card provider, and the number one insurance provider in our Customer Experience Index.
You, too, probably see this dynamic because it plays out in the news every day. Just compare the decision made by a Southwest Airlines pilot to the decisions made by some United Airlines employees.