Customer Experience Spending Surges In India But Lacks Business Alignment

Nupur Singh Andley

Forrester’s survey data shows that the vast majority of Indian CIOs (87%) consider addressing rising customer expectations and improving customer satisfaction to be their top business priorities. Soaring customer demand is putting pressure on businesses to invest in customer experience (CX) initiatives. For my recently published report, The State Of Customer Experience Management In India, 2014, we surveyed 89 CX professionals in Indian organizations and asked them about their spending plans for 2014. Here's what we found: 60% of them expect to spend more on CX programs this year.

While this increased spending on CX by Indian organizations is encouraging, their initiatives too often lack alignment with business goals. We asked the same set of CX professionals about their key CX practices and found that 44% don’t regularly model the influence of CX metrics on business outcomes, while 49% don’t consistently consider alignment with CX strategy as a criterion for project funding and prioritization decisions.

These findings highlight the disconnect between organizations’ commitment to boosting CX and the impact of these initiatives on business outcomes. In the long run, this disconnect has two implications for organizations and their CX teams:

  • Lack of business alignment with soaring customer demands will result in dissatisfaction and churn. While business investment in CX is growing in India, initiatives that don't align with desired business goals will fail to result in desired business outcomes, thus creating a gap between market demand and the business offering.
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How PURE Insurance Built A Customer-Obsessed Business

Sam Stern

My latest report, "Case Study: How PURE Insurance Built A Customer-Obsessed Business," is a case study of a company using its customer-obsessed business model to stand out in the insurance industry. Since its start in 2006, PURE has grown more than 40% each year and has one of the highest Net Promoter Scores in any industry.

Entering the crowded competitive insurance industry was no easy task. PURE knew it would need to stand out. That’s why the founders decided to go with a member-owned business model (called a Reciprocal Exchange) that would help differentiate the insurer from other insurance companies owned by shareholders. For PURE, owners as members means alignment between business and customer goals. The company deepens and reinforces this commitment in several ways:

  • Targets a select group of customers. In addition to creating a member-owned business model, the founders of PURE also focused on a market niche with a distinct and attractive profile. The insurer targets responsible high-net-worth customers. For its homeowners insurance policies, for example, the homes of potential policyholders must have a reconstruction cost of at least $1 million. The company selected this segment because high-net-worth customers represented a favorable risk profile. This, coupled with the fact that the niche lacked significant competition, created an opportunity for PURE to offer highly competitive premiums and still be profitable.
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How Best Western Great Britain Won Validation For Its Customer Experience Strategy

Deanna Laufer

In celebration of the season, Best Western Great Britain is sharing a new idea for a summer expedition every day on its blog. Suggestions include taking in a sheep race in Moffat (between Carlisle and Glasgow), sampling some 4,000 cheeses at the International Cheese Awards in Nantwich (the largest cheese event in the UK), and catching the first few stages of the Tour de France in Yorkshire (who knew the Tour started in Northern England?).

It’s all part of its “hotels with personality” campaign, which aims to celebrate the unique story behind each of the brand’s 276 properties in the UK. In addition to rebranding around this vision, Best Western had to improve its customer experience to live up to its brand promise. But getting support from independent hotel owners and operators to fund its ambitious customer experience strategy wasn’t easy. To win support, the brand had to:

  • Gradually build credibility. Instead of winning support for the entire strategy at once, Best Western tackled some easy changes first, including redesigning its website and improving its internal communications to make them consistent with the new "hotels with personality" vision. Best Western also ran a TV ad campaign featuring hotel employees highlighting the individuality of each hotel. The result was that its hotel owners and employees felt a renewed sense of pride in Best Western as a brand, not just a logo, and confidence in the customer experience strategy. It certainly didn't hurt that the TV campaign drove a year-on-year sales increase of 30% — the highest increase in Best Western Great Britain's history.
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How Hampton Hotels Built And Sustains Its Customer-Obsessed Culture

Sam Stern

My latest report, "How Hampton Hotels Built And Sustains Its Customer-Obsessed Culture," is a case study of the hotel chain. The brand has been on a nearly 10-year journey to differentiate its hotels from competitors on the basis of exceptional guest experiences. It all started back in 2004. As part of the brand's 20th-anniversary celebration, Hampton asked its hotel owners to make about 120 product upgrades ranging from curved shower curtain rods to easy-to-use alarm clocks. Within a year, competitors had copied all of the new features.

The next year, in response to the cutthroat competition in the hotel industry, Hampton embarked on a culture transformation intended to differentiate its hotels from competitors by delivering superior guest experiences. Along the way, the team at Hampton learned important lessons about how to create and sustain a customer-obsessed culture:

  • Leverage executive support. The Hampton brand team began by making sure it had executive support for a culture transformation. That was smart. In previous research, I found that every successful culture transformation has had active executive support. The team at Hampton took advantage of having a strong advocate for customer focus in the form of Phil Cordell, who was the global head of focused service and Hampton brand management. He backed the transformation and created a new position, senior director of brand program development and integration, and appointed Gina Valenti to lead the transformation efforts.
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The Innovative Tool That’s Transforming Customer Experience Training

Sam Stern

Companies want customer-obsessed cultures that will help them differentiate in the age of the customer. But transforming a culture can be a challenge: It requires all employees to understand who their customers are, how customers perceive their interactions with the company, and what roles employees need to play in delivering the overall experience. Enter learning maps, which are fast becoming the centerpiece of small-group interactive training sessions at many companies.

In my recent report, "Executive Q&A: Learning Maps; Innovative Tools For Customer Experience Training," I answered some of the common questions related to creating a learning maps to help companies decide if they should develop their own learning maps.

What are learning maps?

Learning maps are large-scale visualizations that use data, graphics, and illustrations to tell a story. The maps are training tools that abstract significant amounts of information into a format that facilitates conversations and understanding for diverse groups of employees.

How are learning maps used to improve customer experience?

Learning maps are typically used in small-group interactive training sessions to help employees understand the company's customer experience strategy and their role in delivering against that strategy.

What are the common scenarios where learning maps add value?

Some of the specific use cases for deploying learning maps include:

  • Sharing a new customer experience strategy.
  • Changing a specific part of the customer experience.
  • Training managers.
  • Integrating employees from acquired companies.
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CX Q&A With Nancy Clark, Senior Vice President — Operational Excellence, Verizon

Harley Manning

There’s a good chance that you’re a Verizon customer. I am; I get my cable TV, Internet access, and home phone service from it.

All in all, there are 130 million of us Verizon customers — and that’s a daunting challenge for Verizon. How do you — how can you — create a high-quality, consistent customer experience for all those people when they’re buying and using such diverse products?

The answer: business process discipline. And that’s why we invited Nancy Clark to speak at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East, 2014. Nancy is Verizon’s senior vice president, operational excellence, a business process maven, and the sharp point of the spear for the company’s customer experience improvement initiative.

Nancy was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about what she’s doing. Read on for insight into how Verizon rose in every category of our Customer Experience Index that it’s in this year.

Those of you who’ll be with us in New York on Tuesday, June 24, can hear even more from Nancy. I hope to see you there!

Q: When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?

A: Verizon’s history dates back more than a century in some parts of our business. Like all good companies, we’ve always had a philosophy of putting the customer first. At the heart of this is a shared credo — our aspirational statement about who we are as a company. It fits on one page, but the word “customer” appears 10 times, and the first line is, “We have work because our customers value what we do.”

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Data Is Beautiful (Or At Least, It Can Be)

Allegra Burnette

The Eyeo Festival took place in Minneapolis last week. I missed it. I missed it for a very good reason, which is that I just started a new job as a Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. But I still followed from afar, wishing I could hear firsthand about some of the fantastic projects and ideas that get presented there (and I’ll certainly check out the videos as they get posted).

What is the Eyeo Festival, you might be wondering? It’s a small annual conference that “brings together creative coders, data designers, and creators working at the intersection of data, art, and technology for inspiring talks, workshops, labs, and events.” I’ve been to two out of the four conferences and have come away both times incredibly inspired and impressed. This is not just big data. This is big, beautiful, informative data. The coders, designers, and creators both at Eyeo and elsewhere provide living proof that big (and small) data doesn’t have to be ugly, messy, or impossible to understand.

It can have an emotional impact and make a point like this project by Kim Rees and Periscopic, which uses mortality data from the World Health Organization to estimate the number of years lost to gun deaths in 2013 alone.

U.S. Gun Deaths in 2013

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Customer Experience Q&A With Stephen Cannon, President And CEO, Mercedes-Benz USA

Harley Manning

When I was 10 years old, I heard my father and my Uncle Bob talking about the car they’d most like to own. Noticing me, Uncle Bob asked, “How about you, Harley? What car do you want to drive when you grow up?”

I immediately answered, “A Mercedes!”

My father’s eyes widened as Uncle Bob replied, “You have excellent taste.”

Forty years later, Mercedes-Benz still symbolizes “excellent taste” for me and millions of other people around the globe. It’s not just about high quality: The Mercedes brand sets a standard of comparison; it’s shorthand for “great experience” and “luxury.”

And that’s why we’re so excited that Stephen Cannon, the president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, is our lead-off industry speaker at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East next week in New York. Cannon is just perfect as the keynote address for an event with the theme “Good Is Not Good Enough” — because for Mercedes-Benz, just being “good” would be a serious disappointment.

As we approach the event, Stephen was nice enough to answer some of our questions about the Mercedes-Benz customer experience. Check out what he has to say — and I hope we both see you out in the audience next week at the New York Hilton.

Q: When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why? 

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Customer Experience Rooms: What Are They? Should Your Company Create One?

Sam Stern

In the age of the customer, companies must transform their cultures from product-centric to customer-centric. But that is easier said than done. Customer centricity requires all employees to understand who their customers are, how customers perceive their interactions with the company, and the roles employees play in delivering the overall experience. Customer experience (CX) rooms — immersive, interactive spaces that help employees better understand customers — have emerged as a powerful new tool for bringing customers and their journeys to life for workforces. Done well, CX rooms inspire empathy and understanding among employees and help build customer-centric cultures.

In my recent report, "Executive Q&A: Customer Experience Rooms," I answered some of the common questions related to creating a CX room to help companies decide if they should build their own CX room.

Why do companies create CX rooms?

Firms create CX rooms to help employees understand the current customer experience their company delivers and to better understand the intended experience the company wants to deliver. The CX room that Ingrid Lindberg, chief customer experience officer at Prime Therapeutics, created at a previous employer demonstrated how complicated it was for customers to know which of the company's many phone numbers they should call or which of the firm's many websites they should visit.

How do CX rooms help improve customer centricity?

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Customer Experience Q&A With John Maeda, Design Demigod

Harley Manning

Okay, maybe “demigod” is a little over the top. But maybe not.

John Maeda is both design partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and chair of the eBay Design Advisory Board, where he collaborates with design leaders across eBay to disseminate design thinking. But that’s just what he’s doing now. He previously served as the president of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and before that, he was a professor and head of research at the MIT Media Lab.

Now where I come from (Cambridge, Massachusetts, these days), RISD and the Media Lab are synonymous with innovative thinking. But eBay already changed the way about 145 million people shop — most people would say that’s already pretty innovative. So how do you improve innovation by disseminating design thinking at eBay?

We wanted to hear John’s thoughts on that topic — and others — so we invited him to speak at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East, 2014. Attendees can hear him talk on Wednesday, June 25th, at the Hilton New York.

In advance of John’s talk, he was kind enough to answer some of our questions about what he’s been doing and why. I hope you enjoy John’s responses, and I look forward to seeing many of you in New York on June 24th and 25th!

Q: When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?

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