You Need Your Customer More Than Your Customers Need You

Harley Manning

Customers today have more choices than ever. Not only that, they have more information about those choices than ever. And they can get that information anytime, anywhere, and on whatever device they happen to be using at the moment. These changes have collectively put customers in the driver’s seat.

If you’re a fan of strategy guru Michael Porter, you can think of this as a shift in one of his five forces of competition: buyer power. But even without a sophisticated analytical framework, you can feel this change in your daily life. That’s because you’re a customer, too, by virtue of the fact that you buy goods and services, day in and day out.

Try comparing the power you used to have as a customer with the power you have today. I recently tried this exercise by comparing the way I picked my bank in 1998 — when I  moved to the Boston area for a job — with the options I have for picking a bank today.

In June of ’98, I wanted to switch to a local-area bank but didn’t know where to begin. I dreaded doing the research on top of moving my home and starting a new job. The woman who recruited me suggested that I sign up with Bank Boston because it had the most ATMs in our area. With a sense of relief, I did just that and went on with my life.

Over the intervening years, Bank Boston was acquired by Fleet Bank, which was later acquired by Bank of America. Today that makes me a Bank of America customer, even though I never decided to do business with it. Fortunately, the relationship has worked out okay. But what if it stopped being okay and I wanted to switch? How hard would it be to pick a new bank and switch in 2012?

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Countdown: T Minus Two Weeks Until The VoC Award Winners Announcement!

Adele Sage

Where will you be at 5:20 p.m. on Tuesday, June 26th? I know where I’ll be: announcing the winners of Forrester’s annual Voice Of The Customer Awards at Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum in NYC!

We’ve read through the incredible submissions, graded them, picked our finalists, and picked our winners. And I’ve been busy for the past few weeks organizing everything for the big announcement on June 26th and the Forum track session panel featuring the three winners that’s happening on Wednesday, June 27th, at 1:20 p.m.

Yes, you heard right. This year I’m not just announcing the winners on Day 1; I’m also moderating a track session where you can hear more about the winning programs. First, the companies’ representatives are going to describe the types of improvements they’ve made and the business results associated with those improvements, and then I’m going to open up the floor to Q&A. This is your chance to ask the burning questions about what makes these programs so successful.

So, sign up for the event, and stay tuned on my blog for the big announcement in two weeks!

Why Customer Experience Is Critically Important To Marketing At FedEx: The SVP Of Marketing Weighs In!

Harley Manning

One of the great pleasures of working on our upcoming book, Outside In, was interviewing customer experience leaders at great brands like FedEx. I was fortunate enough to be able to talk with Laurie Tucker, SVP of corporate marketing at FedEx, to get her story. I was so impressed by the work that's going on in her group that I invited her to speak at our Customer Experience Forum in New York on June 26th to 27th (she's on the morning of June 27th).

As a prequel to some of what we'll hear from Laurie at our event, we sent her questions about the FedEx customer experience and why she sees it as a competitive advantage. Her answers appear below.

Enjoy!

Q: How would you describe the experience that you want FedEx customers to have?

A: Relationships oftentimes start with a simple handshake. For example, when you meet someone for the first time and extend your hand in greeting, you’re offering to build a relationship. In the same way, we want to offer a hand to our customers to establish a personal and meaningful connection. After all, FedEx is more than just delivering packages. We’re an innovative company that thrives on delivering solutions and programs that meet our customers’ needs and expectations.

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Q&A With David Lessing, Chief Operating Officer, Wealth Management, US, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney

Moira Dorsey

I had a chance to catch up with David Lessing, COO of wealth management at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, in advance of his keynote next month at the Customer Experience Forum. I spoke with David about what it means to have an outside-in perspective on customer experience at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. Here are some of his thoughts.

Q: How would you describe the experience that you want Morgan Stanley Smith Barney customers to have?

A: The most significant driver of a client’s experience with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney is that client’s financial advisor and service team. We are focused on ensuring that our firm offers clients the most talented financial advisors with access to the best tools and investment insights in the industry. Although each client has somewhat different expectations of what they’d like to receive from us, we are committed to both excellent service and deploying our expertise to help drive investment results in line with the client’s goals, something we define as “investment excellence.”

Q: How does Morgan Stanley Smith Barney’s customer experience provide a differentiated experience from direct competitors?

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The Business Impact Of An Outside-In Perspective At Sprint

Harley Manning

Sometimes a CEO takes the reins at a company that’s in such great shape, I can’t help thinking, “Wow, it must be great to be that guy!”

And then there’s Dan Hesse, CEO at Sprint. Given the shape that Sprint was in when he got the top job in 2008, I was thinking more along the lines of, “Wow, he must be working off a karmic burden!” That’s because back then, the company had the lowest customer satisfaction ratings of any of the major wireless carriers. As a result, it was bleeding cash from high customer care costs and lost subscribers.

Faced with this mess, Dan decided to focus on systematically improving the quality of Sprint’s customer experience as a way of improving Sprint’s bottom line. We were so impressed by his efforts that we included a case study about Dan in Chapter 2 of our upcoming book, Outside In: The Power Of Putting Customers At The Center Of Your Business.

The book won’t be out until August 28th, but you don’t have to wait until then to get a sense of how effective Dan’s efforts have been. That’s because on May 15th, Hesse gave an address at Sprint’s shareholder meeting, and he had this news:

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Rx: Four Days Of Inspiration At The Cleveland Clinic Patient Experience Summit

Harley Manning

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of speaking at the Patient Experience Empathy And Innovation Summit. The event was sponsored by the Cleveland Clinic Office of Patient Experience, which is led by Dr. Jim Merlino, the chief experience officer at the Clinic.

To be candid, I originally agreed to give the speech as a favor to Jim, whose inspirational story kicks off the chapter on chief customer officers in our upcoming book. I didn’t know what to expect of the event and somehow imagined that when I joined hundreds of doctors, nurses, and other caregivers in a big auditorium, I’d get trapped inside an episode of House — and I’d be the only one who didn’t know what the other cast members were talking about.

Was I ever wrong. The event was an extraordinary experience from beginning to end, and the content was accessible to anyone who works to improve customer experience, regardless of industry. As someone who helps put on Forrester's Customer Experience Forum, I even got a little envious.

A few things leapt out at me from the sessions I attended:

  • Executive-level commitment to customer experience as a business strategy. Dr. Delos “Toby” Cosgrove, CEO of Cleveland Clinic, and Dr. Kurt Newman, CEO of Children’s National Medical Center, appeared together on a panel. It was clear from their answers to moderator and audience questions that both of them connect the dots between high-quality patient experience and the bottom line.
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Outside In: The Power Of Putting Customers At The Center Of Your Business

Kerry Bodine

Customer experience is, quite simply, how your customers perceive their interactions with your company. In Forrester’s soon-to-publish book, Outside In, Harley Manning and I show that customer experience is a fundamental business driver and — in an age when customers have access to vast amounts of data about your company and its competitors — it’s also the only sustainable source of competitive advantage.

In most industries, customer experience is the greatest untapped source of decreased costs. Fidelity Investments recently spent a modest $20,000 to fix a problem that made it difficult for customers to log into their accounts through the company’s automated phone system. This single fix saves Fidelity $4 million a year by averting calls to customer service. And it’s just one of more than 160 projects that came through Fidelity’s experience improvement system in 2011. Together those projects account for more than $24 million in annual savings.

Customer experience also drives increased revenue. Several years ago, B2B technology reseller and service provider CDW added a question to the customer survey it fields: “What additional things would you like to talk to your sales team about?” The company funneled the answers to this new question to the appropriate account managers. The account managers, in turn, closed the loop by getting back to the customers with a simple message: You told us that you have a need, we’d like to offer you something that could meet that need. And guess what? Customers took the CDW sales reps up on it. This seemingly simple innovation drove more than $200 million in incremental revenue in just one year.

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Announcing Outside In, The Latest Book From Forrester And The Topic Of Our Upcoming Forum In New York

Harley Manning

Since October, I've been heads down on a big project. We're all delighted that the project is now at a point where we can talk about it publicly.

It's Forrester's next book, titled Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business. You'll be hearing a lot about it in the coming weeks, both from me and from my co-author Kerry Bodine. And if you want to see what the cover looks like, it's already online here and here.

Although the book won't be available to the general public until August 28th, attendees of our Customer Experience Forum at the end of June will get digital copies of the manuscript.  They'll also hear keynote speeches from some of the people who appear in the book, like Kevin Peters, the president of Office Depot North America; Laura Evans, chief experience officer at The Washington Post; and Laurie Tucker, senior vice president of corporate marketing at FedEx.

If you'd like to get a preview of some of the concepts in the book, check out the video below — and then stay tuned for more announcements!

 

Customer Experience Programs Need To Move From Talk To Action

Megan Burns

Last week, I released an update to a very popular report titled “The State Of Customer Experience, 2012.” The research is based on a survey of customer experience pros about their plans for this year. The data mirrored what we hear anecdotally when talking with clients every day and should help you answer the perennial question, "What's everyone else doing?" But beyond that, here are my big takeaways:

  • Everyone is talking about customer experience. Ninety-three percent of respondents said customer experience (CX) is on their company’s list of top strategic priorities. For 28%, it is the top priority. And when we asked CX pros how they plan to build customer-centric culture in 2012, about three-quarters said they expect to run training, education, and internal communication programs.
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Boom! Wow, Wow, Wow, BOOM!! Does Your Customer Experience Have A Dramatic Arc?

Kerry Bodine

Think about your favorite action movie. Raiders Of The Lost Ark. The Matrix. Any James Bond flick. What do they have in common? A storyline that goes something like this: In the first few minutes, you’re drawn into a short chase or adventure — something that immediately gets your heart pounding. It builds up quickly and then resolves with a big boom! You’re hooked. And at that point, the main narrative begins. Over the course of the next 90 minutes or so, the storyline twists and turns as the main characters fight off bands of aliens, spies, mummies, and the like. The action crescendos with a series of increasingly exciting events that make you say, “Wow . . . wow. . . WOW!” as you scoot to the edge of your seat. Finally the action-packed finale delivers one last thrilling and explosive BOOM!! As a movie-goer, you’re left breathless.

You’ve no doubt experienced this type of storytelling countless times. And if you paid attention in literature or drama class, you might recognize this narrative structure as a classic dramatic arc dating back to Aristotle. But I bet you haven’t thought about it in the context of your company’s customer experience. Or, at least I hadn’t — not until I attended the Service Design Network conference last fall and attended a workshop led by Adam Lawrence of Work•Play•Experience, a design firm that helps companies design customer experiences using theatrical methods.

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