You Can't Afford to Overlook Your Customers' Emotional Experience

Megan Burns

In 2014, Forrester analyzed CX Index data to see which of the three dimensions of CX quality matters most to customer loyalty – effectiveness, ease, or emotion. We found that emotion, how an experience makes the customer feel, has a bigger influence on their loyalty to a brand than either of the other two factors. Repeating that analysis with data from the first wave of our 2015 CX Index only strengthened that conclusion. Emotion was the #1 factor in customer loyalty across 17 of the 18 industries that we studied this time around.

Unfortunately, few CX programs pay as much attention to emotional experience as they do to functional experience. That’s partly because few people understand emotions very well. Conventional wisdom says that emotions are too unpredictable to manage. We disagree. True, we can’t control customer emotions (nor should we). But we can understand and influence them in a way that makes everyone happy.  

How, exactly, do you do that? Forrester hadn’t explored that question in much depth in the past, but that’s changed. Just last week I published the first of a series of reports on the role of emotion in CX and what it means for CX professionals across the globe.

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What Do CX And The Environmental Movement Have In Common (AKA Top 10 Tactics To Rally Your Organization Around CX Metrics)?

Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian

We all share this sentiment that we want to protect our resources — our planet for generations to come — so that our children and their children can live happily ever after. It’s that warm and fuzzy feeling we get when we see a little girl holding a flower in her hand. I realize that we all share this sentiment every time the press reacts with irate reports criticizing the extent of pollution in China — or when “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” became part of pop culture with Jack Johnson’s song of the same name (sorry if you have that song playing in your head now). Protecting the environment is the right thing to do. But how many times have you used disposable dishes or cutlery when there were other options that were just less convenient? And why do you do that? It’s easy: Life gets in the way.

As a customer experience (CX) professional, you’ll have noticed the parallels by now. You regularly try to share insights from CX measurement or the voice of the customer (VoC) program with your colleagues across the organization to tell them what important customers think about their experiences with the company and what their pain points are. Using these insights is the right thing to do. But how many times have you met polite but superficial interest? And why is that? Life gets in the way. Your colleagues are busy, don’t know why to care, or have other priorities. It’s no wonder then that 72% of CX pros we asked in our recent survey on the state of CX maturity said that their organizations have only been somewhat or not effective at all in improving customer experience.

I looked at ways that CX pros have managed to rally their organizations around CX metrics and found 10 tactics that companies like Avaya, Elsevier, Hampton Inn & Suites, Sage Software North America, and Verizon have proven to work in the real world.

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Customer Experience News: This Week In Congress, July 20th, 2015

Rick Parrish

Welcome to the second installment of this series on Congressional action that could affect federal customer experience (CX). As I said in my first post, the purpose of this series is to help federal CX advocates track bills that could affect federal CX. That way, we can suggest improvements, help good ideas become law, and plan for what happens when they do.

This week, let’s look at H.R. 1831, the Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2015. It’s a performance management bill would create a 15-member executive branch group called the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, consisting of experts in “economics, statistics, program evaluation, data security, confidentiality, or database management.” H.R. 1831 would empower the commission to:

  • Study and make recommendations on how administrative data on federal programs should be combined and made available to improve program evaluation and improvement.
  • Make recommendations on how to incorporate outcomes measurement and impact analysis into program design.
  • Consider whether a “clearinghouse for program and survey data should be established.”
  • And “decide what administrative data is relevant for program evaluation and federal policy-making and should be included in a potential clearinghouse.”
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Part 2: What Do I Do With My Data?

Kara Hoisington

Kara Hoisington in an Associate Consultant in Forrester's Customer Experience Consulting practice

Organizational Alignment Is Key To Data Sanity

During the first part of this series, I talked about how clients are constantly asking us what to do with their data and how they usually go right to “what technology do I need to solve this?” We learned in that post that technology is most likely not the issue (or solution). In this post, I will go to the core of the issue: your organization.

Many companies are their own worst enemy. They have set up systems and priorities that don’t align, leaving everyone in a lurch when it comes to sharing insights and making data more actionable. IT doesn’t talk to marketing. Marketing only gives requests to data analysts. Analysts don’t ask questions. This chain leaves everyone with just a sliver of the story.

In order to break down silos and open up a dialogue across business units, you have to start by asking, “What do we want from the data?” This question will start a path that first leads to where the data needs to end up and which audience is digesting it. From there, dig into where it lives (possibly in a top drawer, behind the socks . . . ) and see if what you need is there. In order to have that conversation, marketing, technology management, and analysts need to get in a room together to discuss possibilities and limitation.

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Better Customer Experience Correlates With Higher Revenue Growth In Most Industries

Harley Manning

Does customer experience really matter to business success — or is CX just the latest flavor of hype? Recently, Forrester completed a six-month research effort aimed at answering that question by examining the relationship between superior customer experience and superior revenue growth. 

Why did we pick revenue growth as the measure of business success? Because it’s the No. 1 priority of global business leaders recently surveyed by Forrester.

So with that in mind, here’s what we did: Aided by some long-suffering research associates, some of our top industry experts and I picked pairs of competitors where one of each pair had significantly higher customer experience quality than the other (as rated by their own customers). We did this for five very different industries: cable, airlines, investments, retail, and health insurance. Then we built models that compared the compound annual growth rate in revenue of the CX leaders to the CX laggards between 2010 and 2014.

The results were intriguing. There was a clear correlation between superior customer experience and superior revenue growth for cable companies, airlines, full-service investment firms, direct investment firms, and retailers. However, the magnitude of the difference varied widely by industry, with cable coming out on top: 35.4% for the CX leader versus 5.7% for the CX laggard. Even more interesting, the results were a virtual draw for health insurers — superior CX didn’t seem to matter much when it came to revenue growth.

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Book Mini-Review: "Customer Experience: What, How, And Why Now"

Harley Manning

Over the weekend, I read the manuscript for Don Peppers' upcoming book, Customer Experience: What, How, and Why Now.

Because Don is a talented writer, and because I love customer experience, it wasn’t hard for me to start reading it. It was, however, hard to stop reading it. If you’re also into customer experience, you’ll no doubt have a similar reaction when it comes out.

What I like most about the book is that Peppers consistently grounds customer experience in business fundamentals. For example, he points out that the decision to focus on customer experience should never be binary: You don’t have to be customer-centric or product-centric, nor does spending to deliver a better CX mean wasting money. The reality is that focusing on customer experience can lead to new and better products and help create an even more profitable business — provided that you understand it.

Of course, learning to understand the practical aspects of customer experience can be hard work — much like attending a particularly tough business class. But that’s not the case here. Peppers makes the nuts and bolts of customer experience engaging and even visceral. To see what I mean, check out two of my favorite quotes from the book:

  • "If you think about it, a customer is really just a bundle of future cash flows, with a memory. And these future cash flows will increase or decrease based on how the customer remembers being treated, today."
  • “Customers don’t necessarily stay because they’re satisfied, but they often leave because they’re not.”
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Customer Experience Pros Should Shift Their Focus From Needs To Expectations

Ryan Hart

Expectation Maps Are A Smart Way To Visualize Customer Journey Emotion

Talking to clients, it’s interesting to see and hear how the topic of “customer needs” still comes up as frequently as the sun comes out in Singapore. In a day and age when customer “needs” such as food, clothing, and human interaction are largely met, it makes sense for CX professionals to shift focus toward dynamically changing and ever-evolving expectations of what a quality experience should feel like.

When making a purchase online, for example, the “need” is for the item to get to the address provided in the time stated — that’s a given. It gets emotional when there’s a disconnect between the picture of the product purchased and the actual item received. Wildly exceeding or failing to meet expectations elicits emotional reactions that shape customer perceptions of the quality of a given experience.

Culture and language also have a very powerful influence on customer expectations, and companies need to be mindful of this when going after customers outside of their home markets and localize those experiences appropriately.

My latest report, part two in a three-part series on tools CX pros can use to customize customer experiences in markets they operate in overseas, explores expectation mapping as a tool to capture diverse emotional elements to augment your existing customer journey work.

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Three Ways To Improve Federal Digital CX On A Shoestring Budget

Rick Parrish

Have you read the results of the Government Business Council’s new “Digital Disconnect” survey?

The results are fascinating, and I could go on for quite some time about them (just ask my dogs, who have been listening to me rant about the survey all morning). However, at the moment, I will focus on the result of just one question.

That question is: “Which of these pose a significant challenge to your agency’s ability to digitally optimize its public services?” The top selection was “budget constraints.” About 64% of respondents said budget is a challenge to improving digital public services.

No way am I going to say that budget isn’t a problem. It’s a huge problem. That’s why Congress needs to fund the digital services groups and other digital customer experience (CX) initiatives that the administration advocates. But too often I hear budget used as an excuse for not doing anything, despite the reality that feds can make real digital CX gains on a shoestring budget and that good digital CX is often actually cheaper than bad CX.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about how feds can use CX guerrilla tactics to make gains without budget, personnel, or authority. Back in April, I wrote about overcoming the top five excuses for not improving federal CX, and budget was among them.

Today, I’d like to mention a few more ways that federal agencies can improve their digital CX on the cheap. Here they are:

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When Was The Tipping Point For CX? It Looks Like It Started "Tipping" In 2010!

Harley Manning

Last week, I stumbled across "The Behavioral Economics Guide, 2015" (which you can find here).

I’m kind of a Daniel Kahneman/Dan Ariely junkie so I immediately started scrolling through it looking for articles of interest. And there, on page 8 . . . big score! A graphic that plots the relative Google search frequency of the term “customer satisfaction” against the search frequency of the term “customer experience.”

Here’s why this chart floats my boat: For two years — from 2008 to 2010 — we see the terms coexisting as if people couldn’t quite make up their minds as to whether they were really different or not. Then in 2010 — pow! “Customer experience” starts shooting up like a rocket, while “customer satisfaction” takes a deep dive.

(Coincidentally, in 2011, the attendance at Forrester’s CXNYC shot up to more than 1,300 people on-site, from just more than 800 people on-site in 2010. That led us to add a CX Forum West — now CX San Francisco — and CX Europe starting in 2012.)

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Pitting Big Data Versus NPS Isn’t The Way To Success In CX Measurement

Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian

You might have seen a recent blog by Tony Cosentino on how “Big Data Analytics Will Displace Net Promoter Score (NPS) for Measuring Customer Experience” because “NPS is prone to error, lacks a causal link with financial metrics, and lacks actionable data.” And while Mr. Cosentino’s blog highlights a critical issue in CX measurement, it only tells part of the story.

The problem in most CX measurement programs — whether that company uses NPS or not! — is that CX pros rely too much on surveys. That’s because of a number of factors:

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