CXDC 2016 Q&A with The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Rick Parrish

CXDC 2016 is just around the corner, and we have an incredible agenda featuring 25+ Federal CX leaders and top Forrester analysts. 

I asked two of our speakers from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – Sarah Brooks, Director, Insight & Design and Julia Kim, Chief of Staff, Veterans Experience – to chat about some of the ways VA is improving the customer experience (CX) for veterans.

Rick: The CX team at VA has been very busy! What two or three CX improvements over the past year are you most proud of? Why?

Sarah and Julia: It has been busy! Especially when we are trying to build the office while also doing the work. We are proud of many things (more than we can put into a blog post!), but here are a few things we’ll highlight:

  • Reframing the Disability Compensation and Pension application process from Veterans’ points of view. There were only five people in our office, and Secretary Bob asked us to look into this thing that he was getting a lot of calls and emails about. What we found is that VA is not managing our Veteran-facing touchpoints during this process – in fact, we have very few front stage touchpoints at all. We have done a lot of work to optimize the back stage (see figure 1). We were not thinking about how to help Veterans understand what was happening and why it was happening. This was our first exposure to what has become a recurring theme at VA.
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CX Marketing 2016 Singapore: Guest Q&A with David Peller, Booking.com

Fred Giron

Some of you may have seen my earlier blog post on why you should attend CX Marketing Singapore 2016! Our annual Forrester Singapore event returns in less than two weeks, and I'm excited to hear from our own Forrester experts as well as esteemed industry speakers on how customer experience is and will continue to be the key differentiator for organizations to succeed in the age of the customer.

I hope to see you at the Marina Mandarin on August 25 — register here if you haven't already! In the meantime, here's a sneak peek of what to expect at the Forum. I had the opportunity to speak with David Peller, ‎Director, Strategic Partnerships, Asia Pacific at Booking.com, who gave us the inside scoop on how Booking.com has organized itself to be customer-obsessed, which it believes gives it an edge today. Here's what he had to say:

How has the age of the customer affected the travel industry? How have you seen your customer needs evolve?

If you think back to the time when travel was essentially an offline shopping experience, the customer used to spend hours deliberating with imperfect information, guided by a travel agent. Today, technology democratizes the travel experience — and you don't just have to take the view of one person for granted. On Booking.com, we have more than 100 million verified reviews of properties, places and activities, which provides engaging content for every potential traveler to explore.

Can you tell us briefly about Booking.com's digital transformation program and the approach that you've taken?

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Thoughts on Customer Experience Strategy: Should All CX Be Awesome?

Amit Bhatia

So I visit this coffee shop close to office pretty often. The other day I was waiting in line and I paused to ask myself – why do I keep coming here? I mean, everything about the exercise including the taste is pretty unremarkable. I order, I’m served, I leave. So then why do I repeatedly give them my business?

You guessed it. I go there day after day, month after month because it is – wait for it… convenient. And predictable. Certainly not because it’s “awesome”. I’m not looking for a fake smile or a scripted line. It’s a really tiny part of my day. My expectations are minimal, they are met, and I’m satisfied. That’s it.

Globally, companies swoon over the superior experience delivered by the likes of Amazon and Apple; paeans have been written about Zappos’ legendary customer service. Last time I looked, a Zappos service associate apparently spent over 10 hours on a service call! Good for them!

Should you follow suit? May be not.

Of course CX is critical. In fact, in the Age of the Customer, we propose it’s the only way forward.

However, people don’t need “awesome” all the time. In my recently published Forrester report Should All Customer Experiences Be Awesome? I dissect this very issue.

At Forrester, we talk to many companies as well as customers the world over. In our experience we observe two things:

  • Customers and companies compare experiences across industries.  And, as a result,
  • CX laggards often want to emulate leaders. For instance, Citi, acting on Apple-fever went ahead and built an Apple Store-inspired “bank of the future” using the same architects.
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Talent Management For The Customer-Obsessed Organization

Rick Parrish

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.
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The US Customer Experience Index For 2016, Part 3: Emotion Holds The Key To CX-Fueled Loyalty

Roxana Strohmenger

Over the past two weeks, my colleagues Harley Manning and Rick Parrish have discussed the rising tide of CX quality, stagnation among top brands, and CX-fueled digital disruption in the results of our US 2016 Customer Experience Index™.

In this post, I’ll explore another big finding from our research: The way an experience makes customers feel has a bigger influence on their loyalty to a brand than the effectiveness or ease of the experience.

CX professionals often think that getting emotion right is simple: Make your customers happy, not angry. However, we find that anger and happiness do not have a very strong influence on customer loyalty. What does?

  • Making customers feel valued, appreciated, and confident drives loyalty. Consider the hotel industry, which had the largest percentage of customers that reported feeling “valued.” We found that 88% of these “valued” individuals will advocate for the hotel brand, and over three-quarters of them will keep their existing business with the company as well as enrich their relationship.
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Forrester Wave™ evaluation of the Customer Feedback Management market

Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian

I am pleased to announce that Forrester Research is commencing a Forrester Wave™ evaluation of the Customer Feedback Management market and collecting data for a separate VoC vendor landscape overview. I will lead the project and the expected publication date is March 2017. For more information about the Forrester Wave process, please read here.

CFM / VoC vendors support companies' enterprise-wide voice of the customer programs by helping a company with all or some of the following: solicit feedback from key customers across channels, centrally collect solicited and unsolicited feedback, analyze structured and unstructured feedback, distribute insights from customer feedback across the organization, close the loop with customers who have given feedback, act on the insights from the feedback, and monitor CX progress continuously. 

If you want to be considered for this research, we ask you to fill out a questionnaire. We will use it to determine which vendors to include in the full Forrester Customer Feedback Management WaveTM study and to gather data for a separate "Market Overview Voice Of Customer Vendors" report. 

We must receive your responses to our questionnaire by: August 19, 2016, 12 pm (noon) EST.   Please send completed surveys to sross@forrester.com. After evaluating the completed inclusion surveys, we will select several vendors to invite to participate in the in-depth Wave research. Note that not all vendors receiving this survey will be included in the Wave. We will notify you of your status after we have completed the vendor selection process.

Thank you and looking forward to hearing from you.

Federal CX Professionals: Your Time Is Now

Rick Parrish

This post is part of a series dedicated to the challenges, opportunities, and realities of federal customer experience. Interested in learning more? Check out our recent webinar to learn why CX success is vital for government success.

In my last post, I explained how forces arrayed against federal customer experience (CX) improvement hinder Washington’s efforts. Luckily, there’s a way out of this quagmire. To overcome anti-CX forces and achieve all the advantages of better federal CX, customer experience professionals should:

  • Form an unstoppable coalition. Don’t try to fight alone. Instead, join forces with like-minded feds to share information, challenges, and solutions. Start by leveraging the large network of the General Services Administration’s CX Community of Practice, which has over 500 members from more than 70 federal, state, and local government organizations. Then tap into the bureaucratic muscle of the senior program managers, OMB staff, and other officials on OMB’s new Core Federal Services Council, the “government-wide governance vehicle to improve the public’s experience with federal services.”
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Introducing Forrester's B2B Tech Customer Experience Index Methodology

TJ Keitt

Since 2007, Forrester has helped consumer brands evaluate the experience they deliver to their customers with our Customer Experience Index (CX Index™). This methodology powerfully demonstrates to business-to-consumer (B2C) companies the link between CX and customer loyalty. Business-to-business (B2B) firms can benefit from a similar methodology to assess their emerging CX practices. Using the B2C-oriented CX Index as a foundation, we created the Forrester B2B Tech Customer Experience Index, which we are unveiling today.

The B2B Tech CX Index is designed to account for the key differences between B2B and B2C technology companies in managing a customer experience:

  • The number of stakeholders within a single account. In a single B2B account there are numerous "customers" -- individuals who interact directly with the vendor or its products. This can include business analysts, procurement officers, tech management executives, systems administrators, end users, and help desk staff. Because B2B tech companies have to account for many different stakeholders, the B2B Tech CX Index captures this range of customers by surveying both business leaders and technologists.
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The US Customer Experience Index for 2016, Part 2: CX Plus Digital Equals Disruption

Rick Parrish

In a previous blog post about the Customer Experience Index for US brands In 2016, Harley Manning contrasted the rising tide of CX quality with the stagnation among top brands.

In this post I'll explore another big finding from our research: CX-fueled digital disruption. In this year's CX Index results we found that:

  • Wireless service providers continue their advance, floating all digital boats. This year we saw an advance by the wireless service providers that help enable digital disruption through their networks: The high, low, and average scores for the industry all went up. Just as telling, seven of the 11 brands in our rankings improved while the remaining four brands' scores stayed the same. This general upward movement pushed the industry into fifth place overall.
  • Over-the-top (OTT) services crush incumbent TV service providers. This year, for the first time, the CX Index includes OTT service providers — companies like Hulu and Netflix that distribute video over the internet through a subscription model instead of through a legacy pay-TV provider. In their debut, even the lowest-scoring OTT service provider beat the highest-scoring cable company. OTT providers' universal superiority signals a huge threat to the revenue streams of traditional subscription TV services.
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Join me in Sydney for a Dose of Product & Service Design Thinking in Financial Services, August 4th

Ryan Hart

I started my corporate career in financial services – working for several large, global high street banks in Asia. During my time “in the trenches” of wholesale and mass affluent consumer banking, I watched a number of ambitious and well-intended new product and service ideas rise through the ranks of budget approvals and stakeholder support only to make it to market and then die a slow death on the vine when customer adoption or planned value failed to meet expectations.

Notwithstanding, the ideas were good – many smart people worked on these projects. However, equipped with the clarity of time, I reflect back on some of those projects today and see a common thread between them. Fundamentally, those shipwrecks all shared one thing in common – they were never properly vetted with the customer before they were commercialized.

Today, while financial institutions are getting smarter at collecting quantitative data around channel experiences; the qualitative validation piece, the ethnographic research piece, the co-creation with customers piece is still missing in most organizations. In some cases, it’s only happening at the bleeding edge. While agile methodologies and minimum viable product-quick-to-market thinking has closed the gap on aligning with customer needs and expectations, the industry as a whole would benefit from an injection of human centered product and service design thinking to move the industry’s CX from good to great.

Join us for our inaugural invitation-only Next-Generation Financial Services summit in Sydney on Thursday, August 4 where I will delve into the topic of design thinking for financial services with my presentation, Fix your Products and Services with a Dose of Design Thinking.

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