For The Love Of God, Will Everyone Please Stop Copying Apple?

Kerry Bodine

Yes, Apple is amazing. In no uncertain terms, the company has had a seismic impact on our society. Apple has changed everything from what we buy to how we work and awakened both corporate executives and the general public to the value of good design. Apple has raised our awareness of the value of simplicity (and the rejection of feature overload); the importance of paying attention to every little detail (down to the layout and typography on product manuals); and the seemingly unbelievable business domination that comes from examining not just isolated customer touchpoints but the entire customer experience ecosystem.

Not surprisingly, customer experience professionals at other companies want to follow Apple’s lead. And it’s only natural for one company to be influenced by another.

But in the case of Apple, I’ve been completely stunned over the years to see the degree of blatant copying that’s taken place. This has come, of course, from Apple’s direct competitors. Take, for example, the roughly 40 tablets that were announced at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show; the various Android-based phones, which look more like iPhone clones than not; and the app stores that have popped up to support every major mobile platform.

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Why Your Website Still Matters

Ronald Rogowski

The explosion of smartphones and tablet computers has companies frantic to build useful apps for serving their customers. Forrester agrees that companies should be building ways for customers to interact with them at the time and place that’s most relevant to them.

But in the frenzy of the moment, too many companies have let their sites languish. At Forrester, we predict that, contrary to what you hear at conferences, websites will not be passé anytime soon. Just as call centers didn’t die when websites came online, websites will remain critical interaction points for specific types of activities such as those that require heavy form inputs, detailed research that spans multiple sources/formats, initial company contacts, and infrequent support requests. And when the website (or any channel of choice, for that matter) fails, the consequences can be costly.

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Users Can't Always Tell You What Their Real Goals Are, But The Right Kind Of Research Can

Ronald Rogowski

Lately it’s become en vogue to talk about how to “surprise and delight” your customers. And why not? If companies are competing on experience, they need to find ways to impress and engage their customers. Figuring out how to do this is difficult but doable.

I recently had the pleasure of editing a report that Vidya Drego wrote that outlined three categories of customer research techniques: exploratory, evolutionary, and evaluative (read or download the report here). That process led me to think about my own research on Emotional Experience Design, which asserts that in order to engage their customers, companies have to craft interactions that address real goals, craft a cohesive personality, and deliver the right sensory experience. It’s this first principle of addressing real goals that I’ve looked into more deeply in a new report called, “Mastering Emotional Experience Design: Address Customers’ Real Goals.” Here are a few examples of companies that address real goals by extending value beyond the functional needs of a single interaction:

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The Rise Of The Chief Customer Officer

Paul Hagen

Over the past five years, Forrester has observed an increase in the number of companies that have a single executive leading customer experience efforts across a business unit or an entire company. Whether firms call these individuals a chief customer officer (CCO) or give them some other label, these leaders sit at high levels of power at companies as diverse as Allstate, Dunkin’ Brands, Oracle, and USAA.

We define the CCO as: “A top executive with the mandate and power to design, orchestrate, and improve customer experiences across every customer interaction.”

Who are these new customer experience executives? Why do companies appoint them? And does your company need one? To answer these questions for a newly released report called “The Rise of the Chief Customer Officer,” we gathered data on 155 CCOs, surveyed a panel of customer experience decision-makers from large North American firms, and conducted in-depth interviews with CCOs from both B2C and B2B companies. Here are a few of the nuggets we found:

  • Title. Forty-four percent have the title of “chief customer officer,” 23% are called “chief client officer,” and 8% go by “chief experience officer.” The many, highly varied titles of the remaining 26% highlight the extreme difficulty of trying to spot CCO-level people by title alone, such as USAA’s “executive vice president, member experience” and Sirva’s “customer experience, operational excellence, and chief innovation officer.”
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Forrester’s 2011 Customer Experience Predictions

Kerry Bodine

Customer experience transformation efforts don’t happen overnight. It can take years to develop the right customer experience strategy and roll out improvements across interaction points. But the screaming pace of technology innovation over the past year has sparked major changes in customer behavior and expectations. The net result? 2011 will be a pivotal year for the customer experience field.

In our latest report, Ron Rogowski and I outline what these changes mean for customer experience professionals in the year ahead — and what they’ll need to do to keep up. The report includes predictions for the customer experience ecosystem, its impact on organizations, and the resulting implications for customer experience vendors. For example:

  • The complexity of the customer experience ecosystem will mushroom. 2011 will bring major changes in the number of devices consumers have at their disposal as well as the types of interactions they’ll expect on those devices. Forrester expects the number of connected TV sales to double in 2011 — and consumers say they’ll be gobbling up eReaders and tablet computers at the roughly same pace that they’ll purchase new laptops. This will force customer experience professionals to expand — and differentiate — their reach. Despite the growing popularity of mobile and tablet devices, the Web (no, it’s not dead) will continue to be a vital part of the customer experience ecosystem in 2011.
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Hot Off The Press: Forrester’s Customer Experience Index, 2011

Harley Manning

How should you measure customer experience? Is it even possible to measure something that feels as squishy as customer experience?

As it turns out, you can measure it, you should measure it, and you even have some decent options for measuring it. Your alternatives range from monitoring the real-world interactions your customers have with your firm (like clicks on a site or the length of a call) to asking your customers for their perceptions of those interactions (the real customer experience) to tracking what your customers do as a result of the experience (like making another purchase or recommending you).

At Forrester, we have our own direct measure of customer experience that we’ve been using since 2007: the Customer Experience Index (CxPi). Today we published the results for 2011, which are based on research conducted at the end of 2010.

To help understand those results, let me explain how the CxPi works. We ask more than 7,000 consumers to identify companies they do business with in 13 different industries. We then ask respondents to tell us how well each firm met their needs, how easy the firm was to work with, and how enjoyable it was to work with (questions that correspond to the three levels of the classic customer experience pyramid). Then for all three questions, we calculate each firm’s CxPi score by subtracting the percentage of its customers who reported a bad experience from the percentage who reported a good experience. The overall CxPi is an average of those three results.

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Service Design Creates Breakthrough Customer Experiences

Kerry Bodine

Back in October, I traveled to Berlin and Cambridge, Mass., to attend the annual conferences of the Service Design Network, an international organization for professionals and academics working in the field of service design.

Um . . . What’s service design? 

Great question! Service designers broadly define what they do as a collaborative process of researching, envisioning, and then orchestrating experiences that happen over time and across multiple touchpoints. Unlike traditional design disciplines, service designers typically examine — and often re-engineer — the strategy behind a service as well as the operational systems, processes, and resources that deliver it.

Um . . . Can you give me an example?

Sure! There are lots of examples in my latest report. But one story in particular stands out because it includes some very cool design solutions for a very unsexy industry: utilities. When the UK recently mandated that water billing switch from estimated to actual use, English utility company Southern Water faced a massive meter installation project. The company turned to service design agencies for help and through several interrelated projects that spanned roughly 18 months, the Southern Water team explored how meter installation could be a positive experience and how consumer behavior toward saving water could be influenced.

In the end, they streamlined the rollout of 500,000 new water meters. (That’s about 400 new meters a day over a period of five years!)  Here are some of the project highlights:

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Got 10 Minutes For Forrester's Q4 2010 Customer Experience Survey?

Kerry Bodine

A few questions for you:

  • Do you know about your company's customer experience priorities and initiatives (or lack thereof)?
  • Do you know what your company's customer experience plans are for 2011?
  • Do you know how your company's customer experience resources are structured?

If you answered "yes" to these questions, please be a lamb and take 10 minutes to fill out Forrester's Q4 2010 Customer Experience Survey. The info you provide will help shape reports to be written in the new year by Megan Burns, Vidya Drego, Adele Sage, and yours truly.

We're closing the survey on January 10, 2011 — but I bet you made a New Year's resolution not to procrastinate.

Thanks so much!

(Agency folks and consultants, sorry — this survey isn't for you.)

Environmental Sustainability And Customer Experience

Paul Hagen

It’s hard to find a firm that says: 1) We don’t care about customers, and 2) we don’t care about being good corporate citizens. That said, it’s astounding to see companies on a daily basis act in ways that show complete disregard for customers and their general well-being. For anyone within companies who cares about brand, this ought to sound alarm bells, particularly as customers become more empowered with global platforms to let others know about their dissatisfaction and as they have increasing ability to take their business elsewhere.

Two relatively new executives within companies are spending their days trying to get company actions aligned with marketing messages: the chief customer officer (or more often a VP of customer experience) and the chief sustainability officer (or more often a VP of sustainability). There is a great opportunity for these two executives to form an alliance that could strengthen both. Why?

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“Twitter For Toddlers” Is Inspiration For Social Customer Experiences

Kerry Bodine

Two Finnish service designers recently unveiled a prototype for a social media toy that’s constructed out of a classic Brio shape-sorting box outfitted with magnets and LEDs. Called the IOBR (the first few letters of its Iobridge tech backbone and an anagram of Brio), a small child can use the toy to let her friends know what she’s up to. Yup, it’s a toddler-sized status update.

Toddler places a square block into a square hole

From the designers’ Web site: “The actual status update is done by placing the appropriate block in its designated place on the box.  For example, an ‘eating’ update is sent by placing the square block with the ‘plate, spoon, fork’ icon in the square-shaped hole on top of the box. This results in the illumination of the corresponding status light on the friend’s device.”

The system has received press from major media outlets dubbing it “Twitter for toddlers.” CNN reported: “No word yet on . . . whether or not you're going to want your kid to learn about these status updates, so to speak, at such a young age.” But focusing just on the IOBR’s status update feature is really missing the point of this project. 

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