If you are trolling around our website, you may have seen that we’ve introduced a new way to organize our research, something that we call playbooks.
We made this change because for years we’ve been producing reports that connect to each other in many ways. The connections are obvious to those of us who create the research, but until now, they may not have been as obvious to our many readers.
Playbooks make it easier for you to find the research we have about every one of your customer experience challenges. What’s more, playbooks suggest related research on topics that you might not have even thought to look for. For example, if you’re looking for best practices for how to improve your Customer Experience Index Score, you’ll also see advice on how to sustain continuous improvement once you take the first step.
Thanks to everyone who made our customer experience event a success! That includes both our many industry speakers as well as our terrific, highly engaged audience and sponsors. You rock!
On June 26th to 27th, we had just under 1,400 people at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. That was up slightly from last year, even though we're offering a second customer experience forum in November in Los Angeles as an alternative (we've pretty much reached capacity at the Marriott). The packed house was a tribute to just how many companies have woken up to the importance of customer experience (CX) as a way of doing business. Personally, I love the positive energy that comes from being around so many people who care about CX.
Our production team just finished editing the video highlights of our main-stage speakers from the event and collecting them on a single page for your viewing pleasure. You'll notice that all of the speeches were themed around Forrester's upcoming book about customer experience, Outside In, which will be available to the general public on August 28th. Forum attendees didn't have to wait until August, though, because we gave them a free digital copy of the uncorrected proof at the event. (With an uncorrected proof, you get a bonus: typos and formatting errors!)
So for all of you who attended, here's a reminder of what we saw. And for those who didn't attend, I hope these videos convey some of the energy and insight that we felt in New York. Enjoy!
Great customer experiences are the result of countless deliberate decisions made by every single person in your organization on a daily basis. To align those decisions, employees and partners need a shared vision: a customer experience strategy.
When most people talk about strategy, they’ve often got a road map or some sort of plan in mind. But your customer experience strategy is actually a description of the experience that you want to deliver. Without that beacon, employees are forced to set out on a random walk, and their decisions and actions will inevitably be at odds with each other, despite all best intentions.
In Forrester’s soon-to-publish book, Outside In, Harley Manning and I illustrate the importance of a customer experience strategy through a case study about the Holiday Inn. In the majority of its 750 properties with on-site restaurants, the iconic hotel chain was losing dinner customers to casual restaurants like Outback Steakhouse and Chili’s. Even worse, it was losing breakfast customers to nearby gas stations — and you better believe that Holiday Inn got worried when gas stations started to provide better breakfast options than it did.
So what did Holiday Inn do?
Well, I’ll tell you what it didn’t do. It didn’t start randomly making one-off changes to the menu or the pricing. Instead, Holiday Inn stepped back to define a customer experience strategy.
The Supreme Court decision upholding virtually all of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (AKA “Obamacare”) shifted a balance for customer experience professionals in the healthcare industry. Now they — and the executives they report up to — know that it’s more risky to do nothing than to respond by taking action.
Keeping in mind that “the healthcare industry” is really three industries, here are some of the most important actions that healthcare organizations will need to take.
Health Insurance Providers (Payers)
As we point out in our upcoming book, Outside In, the health insurance industry has owned the cellar of our Customer Experience Index (CXi) since we began that study five years ago. The main reason for its dismal performance is that the CXi is a consumer study, and for health insurance providers, the customer has not been a consumer but a business — or more accurately, a person at a business, like a benefits manager.
The result was that payers didn’t need to focus much on the end users of their products — consumers — so most of them didn’t. But starting in 2014, a greater percentage of their business will come from consumers. That will drive health insurance providers to better understand consumers so they can attract and retain the healthiest ones, who are the most profitable. Payers will also want to get consumers to change their behavior as a way to keep costs down. For example, they’ll want them to opt for generic drugs and to take better care of themselves. But none of that will happen unless the health insurers build a trusting relationship by providing a far better experience than they have to date.
Apparently Citigroup is about to join a “growing number of banks and credit unions” that have adopted some version of a one-page disclosure form. That form makes it easier for customers to see and understand fees.
Now don’t get me wrong: Making it easier to understand fees is a step forward. After all, ease of doing business is the second level of the customer experience pyramid and only slightly less important than meeting customer needs.
What has me shaking my head is the next part of the article. It says that these new summary pages come in response to complaints about rising fees, including fees that few customers knew about in the first place, like a fee for getting a paper statement and — my personal favorite — a fee for closing an account.
A fee for closing an account? Really? I may be old-fashioned, but I’m used to paying people to perform a service for me, not paying them to stop performing a service for me.
Here’s why the whole “fee transparency” thing misses the point: Your bank really, really wants you to open more fee-generating accounts with it. When you add a savings account or CD to your checking account, or take out an auto loan or a home equity loan, you ring its cash register.
I’m still digging out from all the things that I put off until after last week’s Customer Experience Forum in New York. Even so, I didn’t want to let too much time pass before sharing some unexpected fun we had on Wednesday morning.
It actually started on Tuesday afternoon when I received an email from the co-author of our upcoming book, Kerry Bodine, which said:
The short note included a link to a blog post with a song. The blogger, Ed Hadley, a senior marketing manager at Neolane, had written new lyrics to the Eve 6 song “Inside Out,” turning it into “Outside In.” I was skeptical, but I trust Kerry’s judgment, so I played the song and loved it.
After some quick back-and-forth between our event producer (Katie Petroff), Neolane’s vice president of marketing (Kristin Hambelton), and one of our backstage producers (the unflappably cool Dave), we had the song ready to play as part of my Wednesday morning opening remarks. As it played, Dave scrolled the lyrics karaoke-style. The audience clearly thought it was fun — lots of laughter and a big round of applause at the end.
We just announced the winners of Forrester’s 2012 Voice Of The Customer Awards (VoC) at our Customer Experience Forum this afternoon. We received roughly 40 nominations, and yet again, we were incredibly impressed with the breadth and depth of the submissions. We broadened our scope, too: For the first time, we accepted nominations from around the world.
To evaluate the submissions, each of our three judges graded each nomination based on five criteria: clarity of approach, impact on customers’ experiences, impact on business performance, degree of innovation, and lessons provided for other firms. The nominees with the 10 best scores were named finalists. The top three scorers were named winners.
Today at Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum in NYC, I’ll be running a workshop to introduce our clients to design thinking. What is design thinking? It’s an approach and a process that you can use to improve and innovate customer interactions across all of your digital and physical touchpoints.
To understand what that really means, it would probably help to know a little about what we’ll be doing in the workshop. Teams of two will start out by interviewing each other about a recent gift giving experience. Through questions like, “How did you come up with the idea for the gift?” and “What was difficult about finding and giving this gift?” they’ll try to uncover each other’s motivations, needs, and emotional drivers. Immediately after, they’ll synthesize their individual learnings and focus on a particular challenge that they want to take on — a gift-giving problem that they want to solve for the other person.
Then they’ll sketch out at least five different ways that they could address that problem and get feedback from their partner (and target customer) about those ideas. After they refine their solution, they’ll prototype it using large sheets of paper, sticky notes, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, colored markers, and other craft supplies. This may sound like playtime — and it will be fun — but it’s also a serious and highly effective way to make their ideas tangible and testable. And testing is exactly what will come next. The partners will share their solutions with each other and get feedback about what worked well and, perhaps more importantly, what could be improved.
It’s amazing to me how many times the telecommunications industry came up as we did the research for our new book, Outside In. From wireless service providers to cable companies, whether in the US, Germany, or Australia, it became clear that customer experience is the battleground of the immediate future for the companies that bring us our voice, data, and entertainment content.
That’s why I’m so excited to bring Phil Bienert to the stage of our Customer Experience Forum 2012 East next week. Phil is a longtime customer experience advocate and expert, whom we first met when he worked at Volvo. He’s always been a clear thinker and visionary when it comes to digital experiences, and he’s now bringing that thinking and vision to AT&T.
In advance of his speech, we put some questions to Phil about what AT&T is trying to do and how it’s planning to do it. Some of his answers will surprise you. Enjoy!
How would you describe the experience that you want AT&T customers to have?
Effortless. Customers interact with AT&T across many touchpoints — online, mobile apps, our call centers, and more than 2,300 retail stores — and it’s essential that we make all of these interactions seamless, within touchpoints and across touchpoints, each and every time. We want to make it easy for customers to do business with us, however they prefer to contact us, and to get their question taken care of the first time.
I'm excited that I'll be spending time with Forrester clients next week at Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum 2012 East. On the second day of the forum (Wednesday, June 27th), there are two industry presentations of particular interest to healthcare industry executives: