CX Q&A with Raul Leal, CEO, Virgin Hotel Group

John Dalton

On just about anyone’s shortlist of companies that deliver unique, high-quality experiences, you’d be sure to find Virgin.  And this year, the iconic brand opened its first hotel in the US – a 250-room property located in the Chicago Loop.  How does Virgin Hotel live up to the high standards set by other Virgin businesses?  At Forrester’s Forum for Customer Experience Professionals in New York, June 16 & 17, Raul Leal, CEO, Virgin Hotel Group, will explain.  In the meantime, he shared with us a few thoughts about CX, the hospitality industry, and what it’s like to work for a knight.  Enjoy!  And I look forward to seeing you in NYC . . .

Q: In your industry, switching costs are pretty low. Indeed, one of the things that impresses me about the first Virgin Hotel in Chicago, is how reasonably priced the rooms are!  Is that why CX is so important to Virgin?

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How Governments Can Improve Everyone’s Customer Experience

Rick Parrish

I spend a lot of time talking about the poor quality of federal customer experience (CX) and the effects it has on the public. I’ve already talked about how federal agencies averaged the lowest score in Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™). In fact, most of the worst performers in any industry were federal agencies and even the top agencies — the US Postal Service and National Park Service, which tied for the top spot — achieved scores far below private-sector leaders like USAA, Amazon, and JetBlue.

However, today I want to emphasize the national harm of bad private-sector CX. US consumers have hundreds of millions of frustrating interactions with companies every day, and that adds up to:

  • Degraded quality of life. About 50% of US households reported bad experiences, and 68% suffered customer rage in 2013, according to this study.
  • A weakened economy. Waiting for in-home services such as cable, TV, or appliance installation and repairs takes each US consumer out of the workforce for two days each year, costing $250 per person and the entire economy as much as $37.7 billion annually, according to another study.
  • Stymied business innovation. Poor CX also saps budgets that companies could otherwise use for research and development, capital investments, or other imperatives. And CX improvements translate into big bucks. Sprint saved $1.7 billion per year by avoiding problems that had prompted high traffic to its call centers.
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We Have Metrics — Now What?

Daniel Brousseau

Convergences are cool when they happen, and for the past two months, I’ve been experiencing one around customer experience measurement. Today, I was on the phone with a massive government agency talking about the way it measures customer experience and why it’s not working. Next week, I’ll have another discussion with a major communications company about rebuilding its customer experience (CX) measurement system from brownfield and will also meet with a leader from a major software company on overhauling customer experience measurement globally. Two weeks ago, I met with the head of digital at a top-five bank about rethinking how to measure the digital customer experience.   

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Don't Just Ask What CX Leaders Do; Ask Why It Works For Them

Megan Burns

Last week, I stayed in two different hotels in the greater Atlanta area. One was a Ritz-Carlton, and the other a Marriott.* Hearing those two brand names, you might be tempted to assume that the guest experience at the Ritz was far better than the one at the Marriott. But it wasn’t — at least not for me.

Don’t get me wrong, the Ritz was beautiful. But one aspect of the experience there drove me nuts. Every time that I stepped off the elevator into the lobby I was swarmed by no fewer than three extremely friendly, extremely eager employees. They bombarded me with questions about whether I wanted coffee (which I don’t drink), a donut, help with my luggage, or anything else my heart desired. Now in theory, I love that the staff was so attentive. But they missed a pretty important need of mine — the need for personal space. When I travel for work, I want to be greeted by friendly people. And I want to know that I can easily find an employee if and when I need help. But otherwise, I prefer to be left to my own devices. That’s exactly what I got at the Marriott.

This example serves as a great reminder that no experience is inherently good or bad. CX quality is a function of how well each brand aligns its CX vision with the needs, wants, and preferences of the particular set of customers that it chooses to serve (AKA its customer strategy).

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Announcing The Speakers For Forrester's CX Forum In New York, June 16th And 17th

John Dalton

At last, it’s spring. Even here in Boston, the bloom is on the forsythia — finally. And that means it’s time to announce the confirmed list of speakers for our biggest event of the year: Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals in New York (CXNYC), June 16th and 17th. We’ve got a doozy of a show on tap this time around.

This year’s event features more guest speakers, from a wider range of industries, than ever before. As your host for this forum, I’m thrilled to share such a strong lineup:

  • Raul Leal, CEO, Virgin Hotel Group.
  • Charlie Hill, distinguished engineer and CTO for design, IBM.
  • Beth Ann Kaminkow, CMO, Westfield Group.
  • Rasesh Patel, SVP, customer experience, DirectTV.
  • Rachel Shechtman, founder and CEO, Story.
  • Adam Weber, SVP of marketing, Dollar Shave Club.
  • Mark McCormick, SVP of customer experience, Wells Fargo.
  • Melody Lee, director, brand and reputation strategy, Cadillac.
  • Blaine E. Hurst, EVP, chief transformation and growth officer, Panera Bread.
  • Chris Brown, executive director, guest experience, New York Mets.
  • Kit Hickey, cofounder, head of experience, Ministry of Supply.
  • Parrish Hannah, global director, human machine interface, Ford Motor.
  • Scott Zimmer, head of design and innovation, Capital One.
  • Liz Crawford, CTO, Birchbox.
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Federal Agencies Must Focus On Emotion To Create Great Government Customer Experiences

Rick Parrish

Think about the last time you went through airport security. Or applied for federal benefits. Or paid your taxes.

How did those experiences make you feel? What specific emotions did they invoke in you? Did you feel comforted, hopeful, and valued — or insulted, frustrated, and nervous?

Questions like these are the most important things for federal customer experience (CX) professionals to ask themselves, and our CX Index™ proves it. As my colleague Megan Burns writes in her new CX Index report, “Emotion is the biggest lever you have to pull” to improve CX. In fact, organizations at the top of the CX Index elicited positive emotions about 20 times as often as orgs at the bottom of the Index.

Every customer experience has three dimensions, called the “three E's” of CX: effectiveness, ease, and emotion. Our research shows that the emotions a customer experience elicits influence the quality of the experience more than ease and effectiveness in practically every industry — including government.

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How To Be A Great Client: Tales From Both Sides Of The Fence

Allegra Burnette

I’ve had the chance over the years to see both sides of the client/design agency relationship. I began my career at Ralph Appelbaum Associates, a world-renowned museum exhibition planning and design firm, working with clients like the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Museum of African American History in Detroit. What I loved about those projects was getting to work with multiple teams on a variety of projects with different subject matters. When you’ve spent the afternoon listening to famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson wax poetic about the planets as you prepare exhibits for the Rose Center for Earth and Space, you realize life can be pretty good.

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How To Beat The Top Five Excuses For Not Improving Your Government Agency's Customer Experience

Rick Parrish

Naysayers love to complain that real customer experience (CX) improvement is only for the private sector because government is subject to unique and insurmountable pressures. Don’t believe these cynics. Many major corporations must overcome the same hurdles, and some federal agencies are finding ways to break out, too. Use this list of comebacks to subdue government CX skeptics the next time they start raving about:

  • Entrenched organizations. Even the most stagnant agency can change. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is taking a wrecking ball to its ossified structure with a major CX pivot that includes an overhauled organization; revised policies and procedures; and personnel changes that include the appointment of a chief customer officer. Private sector companies in perennially paralyzed industries like airlines are also breaking free. Delta Air Lines has soared in our CX Index thanks to major innovations to its policies, procedures, technical capabilities, and training.
  • Complex regulations. Healthcare companies groan under the weight of federal and state regulations, yet some companies in this industry find new ways to provide outstanding CX while working within the system. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan shot up more than 20 points in our CX Index last year by simplifying technical terminology and making interactions clearer for customers. Despite being hamstrung by outmoded regulations and congressional meddling, the US Postal Service just tied for first among the 18 federal agencies on our CX Index.
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What's In A Name? Between CX and UX, A Lot

Leah Buley

The Folly Of A UX Youth

Several years ago, when I was writing my book, The User Experience Team of One, I tucked the following footnote into an early draft:

"An alphabet soup of acronyms have been adopted as shorthand for user experience. Which one you use depends largely on what term your organization or local professional community has adopted to talk about user experience. Though they vary quite a bit, all tend to be variations on the theme of “experience.” Among them: UX (user experience), XD (experience design), UE (user experience, again), CX (customer experience), and CE (customer experience, again). Though the acronyms differ, they all pretty much refer to the same thing."

I then sent my manuscript to a handful of colleagues who had kindly volunteered to proof it. One keen reviewer spotted my footnote and immediately called me out on it. He wrote:

"I think it’s an oversimplification to say that UX and CX ‘pretty much refer to the same thing.’ Particularly in the current environment where UX is growing up and the worlds of UX and CX are starting to collide. Anyone who knows the difference between the two may find the statement a bit too much of a ‘dumbing down’ of an important distinction and set a wrong tone. I think it’s worth just making clearer that there is a distinction, although they are both essentially centered around the users and their experiences."

 

Oh, Yeah, They're Different

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Forrester’s Customer Experience Index, Spring 2015: The Start of A Whole New Ball Game

Megan Burns

One week ago today, we Bostonians enjoyed a picture-perfect opening day at Fenway Park. The sun was shining, temps finally warmed up after an abysmal winter, opening ceremonies paid tribute to local heroes like the Richard and Frates families,* and our beloved Red Sox beat the Washington Nationals 9 to 4.

What I love about opening day at Fenway is the optimism, the sense that anything is possible. A new season means a clean slate; the less-than-stellar 2014 baseball season is all but a distant memory.

It is now, as they say, a whole new ball game.

We’re starting a new CX season, too, with the first release of Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) benchmark for 2015. It’s the first time we’ve benchmarked brands using the next-generation CX Index methodology that we announced in June 2014. (The Sox lost to Seattle that day 8 to 2, but at least one good thing happened!)  

The biggest change in our new approach is the way we judge CX excellence. To hit a home run, the 299 brands we studied had to do more than make customers happy. They had to design and deliver a CX that actually helps the business by creating and sustaining customer loyalty.  

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