You Asked, Forrester Answered: Questions About Customer Experience Design

Kerry Bodine

Of the six disciplines in Forrester’s customer experience maturity model, design is probably the least understood. It’s is not taught in most business schools (although this is starting to change at institutions like Stanford and the University of Toronto). It’s also not widely practiced in most companies outside of specialized groups that focus on digital touchpoints. And so it remains a mystery to most business people. That’s a shame, because design is an incredibly valuable business tool — and it’s accessible to just about anyone in any organization.

That’s why I wanted to take time this week to answer some of the questions that I’m frequently asked about customer experience design. In fact, all of the following are exact questions that I’ve received from Forrester clients over the past year.

What exactly is this design thing again?

Design is both a process and a mindset

Let’s talk about the process part first. Designers typically follow a common set of steps when trying to solve a problem: research that helps them uncover deep emotional insights about people’s wants and needs, analysis that helps them identify the real problems and issues, ideation of dozens (or hundreds) of possible solutions, prototyping that helps them bring those ideas to life in tangible ways, and testing that helps them evaluate the proposed prototypes and solutions. Designers don’t go thought this process once — they iterate this process several times in order to learn from their prototypes and refine their solutions.

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Avoid The "All Listen And No Action" VoC Program Trap

Adele Sage

Voice of the customer (VoC) data is alluring. Once you start to collect customer feedback, there's always something more you could be gathering. You think: What else can I learn? What else are customers saying and thinking? Where else are they saying it? You want to know more.

But collecting the data — listening — isn't enough.

At Forrester, we describe the continuous cycle of activities that make up VoC programs as: listen, interpret, react, and monitor. "Listen" is all the customer feedback you're collecting via listening posts like surveys, emails, calls, and comment cards. "Interpret" is the analysis you do on that feedback (and other related data) to understand what it all means. "React" is what you do to fix the experience based on the analysis you've done, and "monitor" is how you make sure that whatever you did to react is actually working.

It's critical to go through the full cycle with whatever data you're already collecting. Because here's the hard truth: You get no ROI from listening or interpreting. None. Zero. Zip. You only get business results from actually improving the experience.

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Experience Design Will Rule in the Post-PC Era

Tony Costa

The last few days have been quite rough on PC-era titans Microsoft and HP. While my colleague Ted Schadler is correct in saying we're in a multi-device, "right tool for the job" era, the unfortunate truth for PC makers is that, for many consumers, the right tool for the job just so happens to be the mobile devices they carry with them, not the PC sitting in their bedroom or home office or wherever people keep them these days. In fact, 77% of mobile searches take place in the home or at work where a PC is readily available. Whether you call it lazy or convenient, the simple fact is smartphones and tablets are quickly becoming the go-to computing devices for consumers.

This shift in ownership and use behavior marks the dawn of a new age in customer experience. As I discuss in my new report, Customer Experience in the Post-PC Era, as customers shift their attention to mobile devices, their expectations are fundamentally changing. In the post-PC era, customers expect companies to provide experiences aligned with their needs and abilities, in the right context, and at their moment of need. To deliver on this, customer experiences need to become:

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APPLE + WIFISLAM = GAME ON FOR INDOOR LOCATION

Tony Costa

Apple’s acquisition of WiFiSLAM made a few headlines earlier this week, but it’s been largely been ignored by the popular press. Just a small start-up acquisition, right? Wrong. Apple’s acquisition of WiFiSLAM is a game changer in two ways. First, it fills a critical gap in Apple’s location and mapping offering, better positioning it to take on Google and Nokia’s extensive indoor location offerings. And, as I wrote last fall, Apple’s focus on maps and location is part of a larger strategic battle taking place.

Second, the acquisition is poised to act as a catalyst – as Apple’s entry into emerging markets so often does – that will ignite a new wave of innovative apps and solutions based on indoor location. To get a better understanding of what indoor location brings to the table, one only has to look at what is taking place in the retail industry, one of the first major industries to embrace indoor location technology. Already, retailers are using indoor location technology to:

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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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