Like it or not, the success of your customer experience initiatives depends on business technology.
That’s because the quality of customer interactions with your brand results from a complex system of interdependent people, processes, policies, and technology that we call the “customer experience ecosystem.” And just like a natural ecosystem, when your CX ecosystem gets out of balance, every part of it suffers — especially your customers.
An increasing number of CIOs, enterprise architects, and application developers get this. That surprises many of the marketers and other business people I talk to on a regular basis. But it shouldn’t: Business technology leaders are ideally placed to see the connective technology tissue needed to create a standout omnichannel customer experience.
To help shed insight into the complex interplay of customer experience and business technology, I recently sat down with Stephen Powers, Forrester vice president and research director serving application development and delivery professionals, to record a podcast. You can hear it in its entirety below (episode 1) or choose topic-sized cuts (episodes 2, 3, and 4).
Attendees at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East in New York saw some great speakers, including Jamie Moldafsky, chief marketing officer at Wells Fargo, John Vanderslice, the global head of luxury and lifestyle brands at Hilton, and Graham Atkinson, the chief marketing officer and chief customer officer at Walgreen.
Interestingly, the speaker with the highest audience rating was Paul Heller, managing director of the retail investor group at Vanguard. Paul spoke about how the firm creates customer loyalty by providing low-cost mutual funds that deliver long-term outperformance, combined with quality service and investor advocacy. At the center of this virtuous cycle: highly engaged employees.
How does Vanguard manage to create a culture that engages employees around providing a great client experience? In this video excerpt of Paul’s speech, he shares the secret: start with “why.”
Who doesn’t know Walgreens? It’s an iconic American brand that’s been around for over 100 years.
But at Forrester’s Forum for Customer Experience Professionals in New York on June 26, Graham Atkinson showed us a Walgreens that’s totally different from the one we’ve come to know. Graham is the Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer at Walgreens, and he’s leading the charge to transform the company from one that traditionally differentiated based on location, location, location to one that differentiates based on experience, experience, experience.
In this video excerpt from his speech, he describes three initiatives that are currently underway:
Delivering the well experience.
Transforming the community pharmacy
Taking the Walgreens brand to the world
As always, we welcome your comments! And if you're interested in seeing more great speakers like Graham, check out our upcoming Customer Experience Forums in Los Angeles in October and London in November.
Of course, I’m not the first person to say these words. That’s how JFK kicked off his man on the moon speech in May 1961. He also said (slightly paraphrased), “We choose to go to the moon in this decade — not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” It’s an inspirational line, but come on. The real reason that JFK decided to put a man on the moon wasn’t because it was difficult. It was because just one month earlier, Yuri Gagarin — a Soviet! — had become the first man to go into space. Putting a man on the moon wasn’t just some lofty scientific experiment. It was a battle between democracy and communism. It was a mission to win the hearts and minds of Americans and of people all over the world.
To achieve this mission, NASA needed to innovate.
One of the most critical things it needed to develop was a spacesuit that would keep the astronauts alive on the lunar surface — and for many years, NASA thought it was going to get its innovation from science fiction. The organization, for example, built many spacesuits with hard exoskeletons that made the astronauts look like manly, rugged bad asses.
But the real space suit innovation didn’t come from science fiction. It came from women’s underwear.
One company, Playtex, was thinking about the spacesuit opportunity differently. Playtex executives saw how they could combine the latex in their girdles with the nylon tricot from their bras to create a protective layer that could hold up to harsh demands of space.
Those are the fundamental questions answered for Wells Fargo by its CMO, Jamie Moldafsky, at Forrester’s Forum for Customer Experience Professionals in New York on June 25.
Going into the event, I didn’t envy Jamie’s task. The four large banks that dominate the U.S. retail banking industry don’t have stellar reputations for delivering a great customer experience. Feedback from their own customers bears this out: In Forrester’s Customer Experience Index, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Chase received scores ranging from 60 to 69 on a 100 point scale. In contrast, credit unions have an average score of 82, and regional banks like SunTrust Bank, PNC, and TD Bank have scores in the high 70s.
But to be fair, when you have 70 million customers spread across more than 90 businesses – as Wells Fargo does – delighting everyone might just be mission impossible. And yet that’s exactly what Jamie and her team are trying to do on their journey to “get to wow.”
In the following video snippet of her speech, Jamie explains why customer experience is important to Wells, what she’s trying to accomplish, and the factors that make her mission both challenging and critically important.
As always, we welcome your comments! And if you're interested in seeing more great speakers like Jamie, check out our upcoming Customer Experience Forums in Los Angeles in October and London in November.
Way back in January I spoke at the Luxury FirstLook conference put on by Luxury Daily in New York (a terrific event, by the way). Several of the other speakers intrigued me. One, in particular, gave a speech that I immediately wanted to bring to attendees at Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East: John T. A. Vanderslice, the global head of luxury and lifestyle brands at Hilton Worldwide (those brands being Waldorf Astoria and Conrad).
Here’s one of many things John said that struck me: "Today's luxury buyers make investments of passion." That’s a far cry from the way customer experience (CX) practitioners usually talk about emotional engagement. But it struck me as an authentic way to describe super-affluent buyers who’ll pay to reenact the life of a Roman gladiator or to take a trek through the wilds of Nepal.
I ambushed John on his way out the door and recruited him to speak at our forum, which he did earlier this week. He was great. And he was also gracious enough to answer some questions that we posed to him, which we’re now happy to share with you.
1. When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?
We just announced the winners of Forrester’s inaugural Outside In Awards at Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East this afternoon. The awards recognize organizations that excel at the practices needed for planning, creating, and managing a great customer experience. We accepted nominations in six categories that align with the six customer experience disciplines in our research: strategy, customer understanding, design, measurement, governance, and customer-centric culture.
To evaluate the submissions, each panel of judges graded each nomination form on five criteria: clarity of approach, impact on customers’ experiences, impact on business performance, degree of innovation, and lessons provided for other firms. Each category was judged independently, and there could be up to three winners in any category. Winners and finalists were chosen based on their scores.
And the winners are . . .
Ally Bank for design.
American Cancer Society for measurement.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for customer understanding.
Firms crave differentiation. But the truth is that even companies with dedicated time and budget for customer experience innovation focus most of their efforts on two things — whatever their competitors are doing and whatever the latest technology enables them to do. When companies blindly add shiny new features or trendy technologies to their mix of customer experiences, they’re innovating just for innovation’s sake.
To shed scattershot innovation efforts that produce little business value, customer experience professionals must examine their business challenges and associated opportunities in a different way — from the outside in. This first and vital step in the innovation process requires immersion in customers’ lives. The end goal? Developing empathy for your customers so that you can discover their unmet needs.
Someone who really understands this is Doug Dietz of General Electric Healthcare (GE Healthcare). Doug had been designing CT and MRI scanners at GE Healthcare for 20 years. As a product designer, he concentrated mostly on the aesthetics and the ergonomics of these machines, or what he calls “the shiny objects.” He was incredibly proud of these shiny objects. And he had good reason — on hospital visits, technicians would shower him with compliments.
But Doug’s machines didn’t so well work for one key customer segment: little kids.
On one particular visit to a children’s hospital, Doug watched a little girl walk in, holding her parents’ hands. She took one look at the MRI machine, which Doug had been so proud of just moments before, and she started to cry. Doug learned that a huge percentage of children get so panicked about their procedures that they actually require sedation. He says, “I thought to myself . . . I’m kind of a failure.”
Today’s customers are highly empowered, hyperactive, and incredibly distracted by all of the options available to them for connecting with the things and people that matter to them most. These customers come to you with highly complex goals that they themselves cannot always accurately define — goals for which they don’t necessarily follow the seemingly logical linear paths you’ve laid out for them. As customers multitask their way through stages of information gathering, evaluation, purchase, and servicing, they connect with multiple outside sources that influence and transform their goals if they don’t hijack them altogether.
Gone are the days of the funnel when companies could lure customers with big promises and push them through a set of steps that would lead to purchase. Today, customer processes are far more complicated than ever, and while many firms believe that the purchase is the endpoint of an experience, for many customers, it’s just the beginning. Instead of taking a fragmented approach, firms need to look at the broad customer journey and understand how they can meet their customers’ needs when and where their customers want to interact. They need to understand their customers’ context and weave together a unified experience that matches the expectations customers have of the brand according to their in-the-moment needs.
“It’s not about what’s your best option. This is your only option”
Those were the words of an airline employee in Pittsburgh, following the cancellation of my flight to Washington, D.C. The agent had put me onto the next available flight. There was nothing more to do about the situation, and my questions were a waste of her time. The pressure on me to accept my fate and let her go home could hardly have been less subtle.
Most of us would like to think that we’re more customer-centric than that individual. However, unless we check the self-centered tendencies of our organizations, we run the risk of being every bit as difficult to deal with — expecting customers to adapt to our language, practices, and policies. That won’t cut it anymore because customers have plenty of options. Companies that want to thrive today had better understand how to meet or exceed their customers' expectations throughout their journeys.
That’s where customer journey maps come in. These tools are proving their value to companies that want to improve customer experience. When they’re used in strategic discussions, training exercises, and design practices, they help stakeholders throughout the organization to keep in mind the processes, needs, and perceptions of customers who are trying to achieve their goals. In my recent research on "Tools For Mastering The Customer Experience Ecosystem," I explained how the packaged vacation firm, TUI, used journey maps to plan for the future of vacationers' end-to-end experiences and how a logistics firm used journey maps to improve customers' experience with its parcel tracking service.