“We can improve your digital customer experience with our strategy, design, and technical chops.” Does this pitch sound familiar? Digital agencies, consultancies, and technical services firms are all racing to be your digital customer experience partner. They have merged, acquired, and built new practices to meet the multidisciplinary needs of both technology and marketing leaders.
Anjali and I evaluated this market — the digital experience services market — to find which vendors are best suited to help marketing and technology buyers deliver digital customer experiences. The result was two reports, one written for technology leaders and one written for marketing leaders. In both, we evaluated the top 11 vendors — Accenture Interactive, Deloitte Digital, DigitasLBi, IBM Interactive Experience, Infosys, Isobar, MRM//McCann, Razorfish Global, SapientNitro, VML, and Wipro — and probed into their strategy and customer traction. Our criteria spanned three main areas:
Digital customer experience strategic consulting offerings.
User experience and design offerings.
Digital experience platform implementation and integration offerings.
2016 marks the year that the CMO will take control of the customer experience — or risk facing significant coordination challenges (and potential headaches) with some other fledgling executive who sees the opportunity to own it.
Savvy CMOs will lead the charge to convert superior experiences to growth. This includes driving change above and below the visibility line: from aligning experiences with the brand promise to transforming operations to deliver high-value, personalized experiences.
Customers' expectations around personalization will continue to grow in 2016, but most companies still won’t be ready to truly deliver one-to-one experiences. That’s OK: Customers don’t necessarily need perfect personalization; they just want their needs to be met in a way that delights them. Smart companies will use batch processing and segmentation to “fake it ‘til they make it” in 2016, but they will increase internal capabilities for more robust future delivery.
Here are three things leading that CMOs will do in 2016:
Lead customer advocacy — or be led. Smart CMOs will use the extensive knowledge that they have of the customer to seize control of the customer experience and customer advocacy programs.
Prepare for experience-driven communications. Thanks to hyperadoption — the unprecedented uptake of new devices and services — your customers will soon own devices that enable significantly more engaging marketing experiences that transcend a single, static moment. Savvy CMOs in 2016 will recognize the fundamental interconnectedness of communications and begin to use design thinking to build differentiated brand experiences that link engagement across the full customer life cycle.
In the coming weeks Forrester will publish its annual set of predictions for our major roles, industries, and research themes — more than 35 in total. These predictions for 2016 will feature our calls on how firms will execute in the Age of the Customer, a 20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers.
In 2016, the gap between customer-obsessed leaders and laggards will widen. Leaders will tackle the hard work of shifting to a customer-obsessed operating model; laggards will aimlessly push forward with flawed digital priorities and disjointed operations. It will require strong leadership to win, and we believe that in 2016 CMOs will step up to lead customer experience efforts. They face a massive challenge: Years of uncoordinated technology adoption across call centers, marketing teams, and product lines make a single view of the customer an expensive and near-impossible endeavor. As a result, in 2016 companies will be limited to fixing their customer journeys.
CMOs will have good partners, though. As they continue to break free of IT gravity and invest in business technology, CIOs will be at their sides. 2016 is the year that a new breed of customer-obsessed CIOs will become the norm. Fast-cycle strategy and governance will be more common throughout technology management and CIOs will push hard on departmental leaders to let go of their confined systems to make room for a simpler, unified, agile portfolio.
Title got your attention? It should. In a report I just published this week, I use our Forrester Consumer Technographics® data to identify the 7% of adults who are digital cord-nevers — measured as people who have never paid for TV and who are under age 32. This is the worrisome group whose arrival TV-industry pros have nervously anticipated. As we show in the report, they are officially now larger than the entire adult population of cord cutters, who come in at 6% of all adults. Put them together, and you have 15% of adults who are not paying for TV while still getting all the TV value they need from a combination of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and other tools.
Don't jump out of any Times Square windows just yet. TV is still massively popular and will continue to be. I wrote that report earlier this year, and Forrester clients can read it here. These defector groups are going to grow over time, true. And as the title of this post suggests, if we model this behavior out over the next 10 years, we expect that 50% of adults under age 32 will not pay for TV, at least not the way we think of it today. That compares to 35% of that age group that doesn't pay for TV today. (That's right, a third of them are already out of the pay TV game.)
It’s not news that the digitally empowered customer is changing our world. What is news is 1) the pace needed to catch up to an extremely dynamic and impatient customer and 2) the magnitude of real change needed to meet the challenges (and opportunities) of a customer-led market.
The magnitude and pace of change driven by customers, competitors, and innovation can be dizzying:
As loyalty structures erode, customers are conditioned to rapidly adopt and abandon services.
There is a fundamental division at the heart of the digital economy. Digital tools make it possible for any company to build a direct relationship with its customers. At the same time, new digital intermediaries can use the same digital tools to create unprecedented intermediary roles. Torn between two lovers, anyone?
We’re in the age of the customer, a period during which end consumers have more access to the basic economic resources that help them make more rational and empowered decisions. The theory of perfect competition dictates that market economies flourish best on a foundation of perfect information that enables perfectly rational actors. The digital technologies we all carry in our pockets — not to mention, have surrounding us in our cars, our homes, and even strapped to our bodies — have initiated a chain reaction, unleashing an unprecedented level of information, which has enabled us — if we choose to accept our mission — to behave like much more rational actors than ever before. (Caveat lector, I didn’t say “perfectly rational” for a reason. See our research on how humans make choices to understand more.)
The more those technologies spread, the more buyers and sellers enter the system, the more innovation there is — at lower cost, thanks to the economics of digital disruption – and the spiral feeds itself.
In ancient Greek mythology, Cassandra, the beautiful daughter of the King of Troy, had the gift of prophecy with complete knowledge of future events. But the impact of Cassandra’s gift was stymied by her inability to alter the future or even convince others of the validity of her predictions. The metaphor of Cassandra hasn’t remained just an interesting myth. We see it applied in a variety of contexts, including politics, psychology, science, entertainment, philosophy, and business.
Since at least 1949, when French philosopher Gaston Bachelard coined the term “Cassandra complex,” organizations have been grappling with the disconnect between establishing a new vision for the business with the ability to reach consensus and actually move forward toward reaching that vision. Achieving a clear, shared vision is often difficult, as it does not match reality and many not feel a sense of urgency to change, resulting in a lack of commitment to the new vision. At the same time, those who support the new vision are termed Cassandras — they are able to see what is going to happen, but no one believes them. Even Warren Buffett, who repeatedly warned that the 1990s stock market surge was a bubble, earned the title of “Wall Street Cassandra.”
In 1860, the year Abraham Lincoln was elected President, Milton Bradley invented his first board game, the Checkered Game of Life. The game simulates a person's travels through his or her life, from infancy to retirement, with jobs, marriage, and possible children along the way. Some squares on the board help you along, with little lithographed hands pointing the way, but almost any spin from nearly every square involves a decision, a choice among as many as eight possible moves. The Checkered Game of Life requires you to make decisions — lots and lots of them — and each of those decisions leads you down a different path, requiring more decisions as you go.
Over 150 years later, the premise of the Game of Life holds as true for the decisions our customers make as it did for the personal decisions outlined in 1860.
In the post-digital world of today, empowered customers have taken control of the relationship they have with the companies they interact with. Your customers now face a maze of media, devices, conversations, and interactions as they make decisions along their path to purchase. As marketers, you must engage customers in the right way across the entirety of what Forrester calls the customer life cycle, from customers initially identifying a need to researching their options, making a purchase, and using the product.
Two weeks ago, I stood on Forrester's mainstage at its 2015 Forum For Marketing Leaders in New York (see a few minutes of the speech below). There, I told an audience of hundreds of our clients about hyperadoption, a term that I'm amazed no one has coined before now. Get used to the word. Because it's the characteristic that will define the next 10 years of your personal and business experience. In fact, in our first report debuting the concept of hyperadoption — released the same day I stood on the stage — I claim that hyperadoption will cause the next 10 years to generate an order of magnitude more change in your life than the past 10 years did.
That's an audacious claim. Because the past 10 years gave you the smartphone and the tablet. But I mean it, and over the coming year, I intend to prove it in my research.
Forrester clients can read the report, which synthesizes much of the work I've done over two decades, where I've had a front-row seat to the changes in how consumers adopt, such as the first consumer experiences in what was then known as the World Wide Web, including that very rare behavior known as online shopping. That experience, combined with the neuroscience research I've followed since my own days in the lab, has convinced me that the economics of digital disruption now allow people to bypass the ancient, loss-avoiding algorithms running in our heads that used to make us cautious of new things and now no longer do.
There’s a particle accelerator in the basement of one of the most celebrated art museums in the world — the Louvre. It's a piece of technology in the most unlikely of places that produces helium and nitrogen beams from a single source to reveal layers of work that are invisible to the human eye.
Why would the Louvre have invested in and put such unconventional technology to work? The better question is, “Why not?” Rather than go on a competitive hunt for more masterpieces, the Louvre devised a strategy to make the most of the assets it had. Staff members were determined to put themselves in the mind of the masters, to think outside in, and to imagine how their artists might have used their precious (and difficult-to-come-by) canvases in more ways than one. Could they discover new treasures that would fuel the Louvre’s leadership in the art world?
Putting its strategy to the test, the Louvre used the accelerator to undercover five lost images from the masterpieces of famous artists from Picasso to van Gogh. The device revealed several layers of images that had been painted over in the final version of the painting. No one knew they were there. By putting an unconventional artist-centric strategy in place, the Louvre harnessed its greatest assets. It armed that strategy with the right technology and a scientific approach to uncover the hidden story that lay beneath the surface of a painting.
In the same way, it’s time for CMOs to lead the transformation of their firm's strategic planning process to an outside-in perspective focused on the customer.