Do You Have The Tools To Make Your Customer Experience Ecosystem Work?

TJ Keitt

A high-quality customer experience is the result of interactions between people in a network, which Forrester calls a customer experience (CX) ecosystem. As followers of this blog know, what holds that ecosystem together are value exchanges facilitated by an open, collaborative business culture. My colleague Sam Stern laid out how businesses define workers' roles and create engagement within this ecosystem. And in January, we published a report explaining the advantage businesses with collaborative CX ecosystems have. But we still have one outstanding question: How do companies enable the free-flowing knowledge and information sharing that make CX ecosystems valuable and successful?

Our new report, "How To Spur Collaboration Across Your Customer Experience Ecosystem," grapples with the enablement question from a technology standpoint. Why focus on technology? The people who constitute a CX ecosystems are never entirely colocated, yet they must share and discuss business artifacts (e.g., marketing collateral, contracts, designs) in order to make decisions that affect customers' experience. This problem requires a technical solution.

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What The World Can Learn From Japan's Exquisite Service Culture

Ryan Hart

Those of you who have spent time in Japan might have noticed that interactions with service staff there play out in a carefully choreographed blend of ceremony and gratitude, regardless of whether you’re buying a coffee at the corner shop or a bag at a local boutique. The paradox is that this delightful customer experience occurs despite most companies in Japan lacking the accountability, rigor, and coordination that characterize leading CX global organizations.

What's interesting though, is that a high level of empathy enables Japanese organizations to overcome their CX maturity shortcomings by delivering an exquisite level of hospitality service. This empathy-focused culture is rooted in what the Japanese call omotenashi, a spirit of unobtrusive and respectful approach to guests that anticipates their needs, bestows respect, and surprises them at every point in the service scenario.

One misconception is that this exquisite hospitality is solely and inherently connected to Japanese culture and cannot be easily replicated elsewhere. Parents and schools inculcate an awareness of and sense of empathy toward others into Japanese children from an early age, and this ethos permeates Japanese society. However, as Charles Darwin pointed out in his book, The Descent of Man, everyone is born with an intrinsic level of empathy that remains present to varying degrees in all of us. Companies should recognize that omotenashi can take root anywhere and can begin planting the seeds of an omotenashi culture in their companies by codifying CX empathy programs that, in principle:

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Measure Emotions In Customer Experiences To Improve Loyalty

Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian

Do you know how your customers feel about their experiences with your firm? Customers’ emotions can damage — or improve — customers’ perception of the overall experience and your firm’s ability to grow. Customers’ emotions affect whether you’ll lose or keep them, whether they will buy more or less from you, and whether they will spread good or bad word of mouth about your company.

In a recent episode of CX Cast, I spoke about how to measure emotions in customer experience. Listen to the podcast below.

For detailed insights, check out my report, "How To Measure Emotion In Customer Experience" (subscription required). 

Early on in my research, I found that most current CX measurement programs don’t quantify customers’ emotions. Instead, they focus almost exclusively on metrics that reflect a rational or cognitive evaluation of experiences. Measuring emotions — and making sense of all of the tools and methods that claim to do just that — is hard. What’s more, a deep-seated skepticism about the trustworthiness of emotion measurement prevails in organizations — making it harder to get buy-in for emotion metrics.

But you can learn a lot from organizations that measure emotions in customer experience. 

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Don’t Let Volatile Markets Scare You Away From Customer Experience Investments

Harley Manning

If you like horror shows, forget The Walking Dead and check out global markets: In 2016, US stocks got off to their worst start ever. Oil prices are in the toilet — taking oil company stocks with them — and neither looks to fully recover any time soon. Of course, both of these Nightmares on Wall Street might pale in comparison to what a Brexit could do to volatility in foreign exchange rates (and therefore your profit and loss).

In the past, you might have expected China to ride to the rescue. But that won’t happen: The Chinese economy just grew at its slowest rate in 25 years

Companies that obsess over these developments might be tempted to panic and cut spending on customer experience improvement programs, despite the fact that many firms are sitting on piles of cash. But cutting CX budgets is a terrible idea because CX is the greatest potential source of competitive advantage — especially in times of high market volatility. For example:

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The Public Is Still Skeptical Of Federal Digital Customer Experience

Rick Parrish

The White House has been trying to improve the federal digital customer experience (CX) since 2011. But when I published my first report and blog on the topic in 2015, the situation was still dire. A Forrester survey had just shown that, for instance:

  • Only two-fifths of the public agreed that the federal government should focus on offering more digital services.
  • Fewer than a third of Americans wanted federal mobile apps that tailor safety alerts and other government information to the user’s location.
  • Just two-fifths of people were interested in a single-sign-on credential for federal websites.
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Customer Obsession Is An Employee Engagement Strategy, Too

Sam Stern

CX pros: What's better than delivering experiences that delight customers? Doing so, while helping your colleagues feel more engaged with their work. That's a nice thought, and few would dispute the importance of engaging employees to deliver better experiences. In fact, most execs have internalized the ideas laid out more than 20 years ago in the service-profit chain theory, which is that employee satisfaction leads to customer loyalty that in turn leads to profits. So why then, according to Gallup, do employee engagement rates remain stubbornly unchanged year after year? 

Maybe it's because companies haven't offered employees what they want most: purpose in their work, the chance to master new skills, and the autonomy to figure out the best way to work. Those three characteristics show up again and again in academic research studying what makes people engaged or satisfied in their work.

The good news for CX pros is that asking their colleagues to contribute to great CX gives them that sense of purpose, asks them to master new skills, and requires autonomy for employees to respond to customer needs and requests appropriately in the moment. In my recent report, "Customer Obsession Is An Employee Engagement Strategy, Too," I make the case for focusing on improving customer experience delivery as a way to drive greater employee engagement  and all its benefits like higher retention and productivity rates. To do that effectively, though, CX pros must:

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Co-creating Customer Experiences? Match Objectives To Desired Outcomes

Ron Rogowski

One of the most enjoyable and fulfilling things about helping Forrester clients become customer-obsessed is leading an experience co-creation workshop.  Forrester defines co-creation as the active participation of employees, customers, and stakeholders working together to design new experiences. It’s a technique that helps companies define the right experience for their customers and provides critical information that supports human-centered design.

A typical co-creation session puts Forrester consultants, our clients, and our clients’ customers in a room for a whole day. Together we work through a set of creative exercises designed to expose customer needs, perceptions, and expectations for an ideal experience. Sometimes these sessions are targeted at getting high-level, sentiment-based feedback, such as: What do our customers want from this experience? What does our current state experience look like compared to the ideal? Other times, our clients want more concrete solutions or recommendations such as:  What new experience should we offer? What features should go into our new mobile app? To see it in action, check out this video summary, produced by Western Union, showcasing a workshop we hosted together last year to co-create a new mobile experience.

While co-creation can provide direction on customer expectations and feedback on specific designs, we’ve learned that teams run into trouble when they try to do both of these things in the same session. Why? Because exploratory research and prototyping are two different activities that happen at distinct stages of a user-centered design process. Let’s examine the user-centered design process illustrated below:

 

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Why Your Organization Is Approaching Personalization Wrong

Fiona Adler

A few weeks ago, I learned that my credit card number was part of a large data breach and that I needed to cancel it immediately. My first thought? Panic and trepidation  what if someone already charged on my card? What about the companies that I have recurring payments with  will they reject them and charge me fees? How do I remember all of the companies with which I even have recurring payments?

As all of these questions entered my mind and I started questioning my loyalty to Capital One, I received the following email (pictured) explaining what I needed to do as a customer and the companies that I needed to contact:

Capital One not only provided immediate relief but also demonstrated awareness of my individual profile and what could make or break my specific customer experience. It implemented personalization at a critical "moment of truth."

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Best Practices For Managing CX Via B2B Partner Networks

Ryan Hart

While much of the glitz and glam around customer experience has orbited around B2C organizations, Forrester believes that the imperative shift toward customer experience and subsequently, customer centricity, is creeping into the B2B space – sooner than we might expect.

Recognizably, there are inherent challenges in distributing through channel partners, not the least of which is a lack of direct contact with end customers and the complexity of trying to manage experiences that cannot ultimately be controlled. All of which pose sizable obstacles to CX professionals in such organizations. My most recent report describes six principles and examples that companies selling via channel partners should consider to better manage their prescribed end user experiences so as to align with the company’s CX strategy.

Here are several of the key collaborative principles that can help B2B companies foster better partner alignment:

·         Apply B2C tools to understand your partners.  More and more firms are creating B2B personas from stakeholder maps, co-creating customer journey and empathy maps with their channel partners, and implementing voice of the partner (VoP) programs to capture CX sentiment from their intermediaries.

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2016: CX Leaders Will Adopt Agile, Insight-Led Innovation To Fuel Customer Obsession

Deanna Laufer

In 2015, customer experience (CX) rose to the No. 1 priority for business and technology leaders. In 2016, it will be among the top 10 critical success factors determining who will win and who will fail in the age of the customer. And for good reason: Better customer experience correlates with stronger revenue growth. But this is only true when competitors provide meaningful differences in the experiences they offer and unsatisfied customers have the freedom to jump ship when treated poorly. So in order to reap the benefits that better CX can provide, in 2016, companies will need to get down to the real business of not only providing good experiences but also breaking away from the pack with meaningful internal operational changes.

This won’t be easy, because success in the age of the customer requires shifting to a customer-obsessed operating model that puts customers at the center of all strategic decision-making. In 2016, leaders will tackle the challenge of making this shift; laggards will underestimate the magnitude and speed of change required and will instead push forward with uncoordinated digital efforts and flawed business priorities.

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