Announcing Forrester's Outside In Awards

Adele Sage

We are pleased to announce that the nomination period has opened for a new Forrester award program: The Outside In Awards!

Forrester’s Outside In Awards are inspired by our recent book on customer experience, Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business. They recognize organizations that excel at the practices needed for planning, creating, and managing a great customer experience. The awards will be presented on June 25th at Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East in New York City.

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.

Good luck to all!

Business-To-Business Companies: What’s Your Reason For Ignoring Business-to-Consumer Customer Experience Practices?

Harley Manning

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.

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Build VoC Support From The Top Down . . . And From The Bottom Up

Adele Sage

There’s no question that executive support can make or break a voice of the customer (VoC) program. With an executive (or several) onboard, VoC teams can get the funding and tools that they need to succeed. And VoC leaders from Forrester’s 2012 Voice Of The Customer Awards almost unanimously gave others the advice to build executive support.

If you’re struggling to get your program off the ground, heed their wise advice. Appeal to executives with evidence (metrics, business results) and with compelling stories about what might be going wrong for customers and how they’ve been delighted by the experience. Ask for execs to support you in collecting feedback from customers, analyzing that feedback, taking on projects to improve the experience, and monitoring to make sure that those projects are working.

But executives aren’t the only key to a successful program. Top-down support is important, but it has to be balanced with bottom-up support, too. What happens when execs mandate that everyone cares about customer feedback? People don’t really care. It feels like a fad. Employees have to feel some ownership and control — or they just won’t buy in.

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Catch Four Forrester Speakers At SXSW

Kerry Bodine

SXSW Interactive starts tomorrow! Are you making the trek to Austin? If so, please join me for a book reading and short presentation about the ideas in Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business. In addition to outlining the business benefits of improving your customer experience, I’ll discuss the critical role that marketers play in shaping customers’ perceptions and propelling companies to their full customer experience potential. If you’ve already got a copy of Outside In, bring it with you – or buy one in the SXSW bookstore – and then head to the book signing immediately following my talk. Here are the session details:

Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business

Sunday, March 10, 11:00 – 11:20 AM

Book signing from 11:30 – 11:50 AM

Please also check out these sessions from my Forrester colleagues Nate Elliott, Sarah Rotman Epps, and James McQuivey:

Affinity, Intent, and the War for Marketing Dollars

Sunday, March 10, 5:00 – 6:00 PM

Nate Elliott

Wearables: Moving from Niche to Mainstream

Monday, March 11, 3:45 - 4:00 PM

Sarah Rotman Epps

The Next Disruption

Monday, March 11, from 5:45 - 6:00 PM

James McQuivey

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Use The Customer Experience Ecosystem Playbook To Drive Differentiation

Paul Hagen

Even companies that make customer experience a strategic priority struggle to implement major long-lasting improvements. That's because they fail to connect behind-the-scenes activities to customer interactions. These firms need a new approach to customer experience management: one that considers the influence of every single employee and external partner on every single customer interaction. Forrester calls this complex set of relationships the customer experience ecosystem.

Healthy customer experience ecosystems create value for all of the actors in the system. To nurture a healthy ecosystem, firms must balance the needs of and engage all of the parties involved. Customer experience leaders need to:

  • Engage employees to meet business and personal objectives.
  • Engage partners to drive results for their organizations too.
  • Engage customers to create experiences that meet their needs, are easy, and are enjoyable.
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You Asked, We Answered! Q&A From Our Co-Creation Webinar

Kerry Bodine

On February 14, Amelia Sizemore and I delivered a Webinar about customer experience co-creation. We received so many questions that we couldn’t answer them all during the call, so I’m answering them (in brief) here:

How is co-creation different from human-centered design?

Co-creation is a process of face-to-face active collaboration with your company’s employees, partners, and customers. It’s not an explicit step in a human-centered design process – it’s a methodology that can be applied to any stage in that process.

How does co-creation fit with journey mapping?

Co-creation can help you explore and address misperceptions in your current customer journey maps. For example, you might plot out the customer’s journey as you perceive it, and then bring customers into a co-creation workshop to poke holes in it, point out inaccuracies, and tell you about steps you’re missing.

Once you’ve had customers define what’s really happening today, you can involve them in co-creating the ideal customer journey for tomorrow.

During the co-creation process, is there room for negotiation? What if customers want an experience that just isn't possible from a business perspective?

The term “co-creation” might sound like this activity is focused on defining polished solutions. However, its primary purpose is actually to unearth deeper insights.

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When Should You Favor Customer Experience Over Profits? Never!

Harley Manning

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).

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Pricing Can Make Or Break The Customer Experience: Find The Issues That Drive Away Your Customers!

Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian

Pricing matters when it comes to your customers' experiences and loyalty! You are not quite sure? Let's do a short quiz:

Have you ever:

  • Left a rental car counter flabbergasted by the final price?
  • Given up on finding a new mobile phone plan when the sheer number of options obscured the best choice?
  • Checked your latest bank statement only to find an unexpected new fee?
  • Squeezed into a middle airplane seat because the alternative meant shelling out $20 for a preferred seat assignment?
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You Cannot MANAGE Customer Experience If You Cannot MEASURE It! Join The Workshop "Customer Experience Measurement Essentials"

Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian

Are you trying to take your current customer experience measurement to the next level?

Many of the customer experience professionals we talk to regularly are working on improving their customer experience measurement. You are probably one of them. You might be working on picking the right metrics, on connecting customer experience to business outcomes or to operational variables, on using data to improve the customer experience, or on getting traction for CX measurement in your organization. To conquer any or all of these challenges, you need a solid and well-founded customer experience measurement framework. 

In Forrester's workshop Customer Experience Measurement Essentials, you will:

  • Learn the fundamentals of measuring customer experience in both a business-to-consumer and business-to-business world.
  • Get to know Forrester's framework for how to identify, organize, present, and get buy-in for customer experience metrics across the enterprise.
  • Discuss your approach and challenges with your CX peers and see what other companies are doing.
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How Marshalls, Courtyard By Marriott, And Lowe’s Meet Customer Needs

Megan Burns

Earlier this week, someone asked me which firms in the CXi do the best job at meeting customer needs. The three top scorers on that criterion were:

  • Marshalls (93%)
  • Courtyard by Marriott (92%)
  • Lowe's (92%)
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