Drive Customer-Centric Employee Behavior With Rewards And Recognition

Sam Stern

In my latest report, "Drive Customer-Centric Employee Behavior With Rewards And Recognition," I describe how companies modify their reward and recognition programs to drive more customer-centric employee behaviors.

Many companies tie rewards to a rise in either Net Promoter Scores (NPS) or customer satisfaction scores. Unfortunately, that's exactly the kind of mistake that leads employees and partners to game the system. Porsche discovered that its stellar NPS was the result of dealers offering freebies to customers in exchange for higher scores. Similarly, when it noticed that satisfaction scores and comments didn't match, music retailer Guitar Center had to retool its rewards and recognition system to prevent store associates from massaging customer survey results.

My report describes the process for ensuring your rewards and recognition reinforce customer-centricity, rather than tempting employees to game the system. To avoid common pitfalls, companies must:

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Communications, Training, And Routines: How Companies Socialize Customer Centricity

Sam Stern

In my latest report, "Communication, Training, And Routines: How Companies Socialize Customer Centricity," I explain how companies that want to create a more customer-centric culture use communication, training and routines to help employees adopt a customer-centric point of view. The report provides the following examples and recommendations to help companies socialize customer-focus with all employees. 

Communicate the importance of customer-centricity. Effective communications programs share updates with employees about initiatives to reinforce customer focus and highlight the importance of customer experience to the organization. As part of their customer-centric communication programs, companies should connect senior leaders with frontline employees and ensure that all corporate communications reinforce customer focus.

  • Companies like Avis Budget Group and E-Trade focus on changing the tone and content of all corporate communications.
  • General Motors (GM) assigned leaders the task of explaining the new customer focus to their respective departments. Involving senior leaders in this way reinforced to all employees that customer centricity was now an organizational imperative.
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Strive For A Stress-Free Customer Experience

Craig Menzies
For years, Forrester has been talking about customer experience in terms of a pyramid. While Forrester defines customer experience as simply "how customers perceive their interactions with your company," we also subdivide this overall experience into three key aspects. First, and the base of the pyramid, is that an experience must meet a customer's core needs. Next, it must be easy for them to accomplish their goals. And last, and most difficult, the experience should be enjoyable. If an experience isn't inherently something that actually can be enjoyable -- think renewing your car insurance -- then the top of the pyramid is about creating delight from an experience that could be really awful.
The customer experience pyramid
It's this last element I want to focus on, by way of a story. Recently I was going to be presenting at a conference overseas, and though I travel extensively around Asia Pacific, I had not yet visited this particular country. But the consulate for that country in Australia (where I live) requires business visitors to apply for a visa in the old-fashioned kind of way -- standing in line with an application (even if you filled it out online), your passport, and payment for the visa.
 
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Customer Experience Predictions For 2014

Harley Manning

My colleague John Dalton and I recently published a report outlining our major predictions for customer experience in the coming year. What we envision is perhaps best summed up by the old William Gibson quote: “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.”

Here’s why: As I wrote in a recent post, roughly half of the attendees at Forrester’s three customer experience forums in 2013 said that their organizations are in the first phase of the path to CX maturity (repair). Their priority is — and for the immediate future will remain — finding and fixing broken experiences.

A much smaller group of companies — no more than 10% — say that their organizations are in the ultimate phase of CX maturity (differentiate). In contrast with companies in the repair phase, they'll build on their past success with well-funded efforts that leverage their skills in strategy, customer understanding, and design.

With that as background, we predict that two major themes will deserve the most attention in the coming year.

Companies in the repair phase will fight to advance along the path to customer experience maturity. Companies just starting to fix their broken experiences will find themselves in a struggle that's hard, slow, and increasingly costly. They'll focus on getting key infrastructure in place to assess what's broken, manage a portfolio of repair projects, and measure the results they need to build enterprisewide support for CX.

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Introducing Forrester's Customer Experience Index, 2014

Megan Burns

It’s January again, which means it’s time to reveal the results of our seventh annual Forrester Customer Experience Index (CXi). This year’s report benchmarks the quality of the customer experience (CX) at 175 US firms in 14 industries as rated by the only people whose opinion really matters — their customers.

The top spot this year went to Amazon.com, but not for its score in the retail category. Amazon earned an Index-leading score of 91 for its debut in the consumer electronics manufacturer category (for the Kindle). I guess that’s what happens when one of your company’s core principles is to obsess about customers. (It’s also worth noting that our study happened to coincide with the launch of the Kindle’s innovative Mayday feature and corresponding ad campaign.)

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Contextual Customer Experience

Craig Menzies

The Forrester Asia Pacific team is currently meeting in Bangkok to discuss how we support our clients in the age of the customer. Meeting friends and colleagues overseas is always a great experience. We get away from our desks and exchange ideas, bringing focus to our efforts for the following year. But, of course, you have to get everyone to the destination venue for this to happen.

One of the first things we always end up discussing on first meeting one of our colleagues is the quality of the journey. “How was your flight?” is the first question we end up asking each other. As I talked with two of my colleagues from Sydney, I learned that all three of us had been on the same Qantas flight to Bangkok that same afternoon. As we compared our journeys, it was amazing to discover that we had had three markedly different experiences, despite all being on the very same aircraft.

I was in economy, having paid a little extra for emergency exit seats. The flight wasn’t full, so I had a row of three seats to myself. Lots of room to spread out, and the flight was very quiet, easy, and uneventful. My experience, though, was of an older plane with technology that was, frankly, no longer meeting my minimum standard. The entertainment units were old and tiny, and the user interface was absurdly complex. But because I was comfortable, I was willing to overlook it.

One of my colleagues, the regional sales director from Australia, was one section ahead of me on the plane, also in economy. She reported a nightmare flight with no air conditioning, poor food, and crowded seats. Her experience was quite negative. We both ate the same food, but her experience of it was undoubtedly influenced by the hot temperatures and crowded seating.

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The Path To Customer Experience Differentiation

Harley Manning

In a previous post, I wrote about speakers at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals EMEA who represented companies in the repair phase of customer experience (CX) maturity. Their mission: find broken experiences, fix them, and measure the results.

Roughly half of companies on the path to customer experience maturity say that they’re in the repair phase today — and that’s probably a conservative estimate. But there are companies at more advanced stages of CX maturity, including a few in the most advanced phase, differentiate. That’s where firms reframe business challenges in the context of unmet customer needs, connect innovation ideas to their customer experience ecosystem, and infuse innovations with the brand.

We had two speakers at our event who represented companies in the differentiate phase: Dean Marshall, director of Lego brand retail store operations Europe, and Declan Collier, CEO, London City Airport. What is it that their organizations do that’s so different?

Lego stores  goes beyond even the typical design best practices used by companies in less advanced (but still pretty advanced!) phases of CX maturity, practices like ethnographic research and co-creation. How? By combining the two.

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Customer Experience Professionals, Meet Service Design — Your New Best Friend

Kerry Bodine

Companies can turn to a variety of experts — like interactive agencies and customer experience transformation consultants — for help with improving or innovating the customer experience. But despite years of experience and a thriving professional network, one type of expert remains virtually unknown to customer experience professionals: the service design agency. Customer experience professionals should seek out service design agencies because:

  • Service designers tap into the power of human-centered design. Unlike customer experience firms that take an approach akin to management consulting, service design agencies leverage human-centered design practices like ethnographic research, co-creation, and low-fidelity prototyping. The combination of these practices enables service design agencies to more quickly — and cheaply — identify the real customer and corporate problems that they need to address and develop effective solutions. These activities also serve as potent communication vehicles, exposing assumptions and marshaling early buy-in from employees and stakeholders.
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CX Predictions For 2014 — Australia And Asia Pacific

Craig Menzies

Last month I contributed to Dane Anderson's excellent report "Asia Pacific Technology Predictions: 2014." As it's the time of year for predictions (and the occasional fireworks display and glass of champagne), I wanted to revisit my thoughts on what will be important in 2014 from a customer experience perspective, in addition to the predictions I made in that report.

We who research customer experience full-time and have been doing it awhile can't help but notice a change in how customer experience is being viewed by firms and organizations. Five years ago when I was last at Forrester, for example, the main thrust of our work was convincing business leaders that CX was something that was essential to invest in. Now our work has changed. It seems that the CX message has been received, and it's less about convincing firms that it's a good idea and more about gauging where companies are with their CX efforts and giving guidance on how they can achieve the goal of truly differentiating their businesses through the quality of the experiences they deliver (consistently and systematically).

So as I listen closely to what customer experience professionals, CIOs, and CMOs are talking about, it's clear to me that we're actually cresting the wave of a trend. Customer experience brings proven benefits, the C-suite gets it and funds it, empowered customers expect it, and companies that ignore this trend are going to be left behind.

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A Christmas Customer Experience Story

Craig Menzies

I have lived in Australia for almost two years, and while my family in Canada loses power due to ice storms and snow squalls, I sit writing this post in 38-degree Celsius heat as Sydney experiences the first heat wave of the summer (but not the last). So, this time of year does not at all feel like Christmas to me. However, there are certain inevitable experiences that remind me that yes, indeed, this is the festive time of the year. Christmas parties, decorations and lights, mobs and mobs of people doing their Christmas shopping (in shorts and T-shirts), and for at least the past decade, the now-inevitable act of waiting for holiday packages from online shopping to arrive.

This is where this Christmas story really begins. eCommerce shopping is now a stalwart of the holiday season, as savvy shoppers do their Christmas shopping online to avoid the crush of people at the shopping mall. While this is definitely a stress-saver, the online shopping experience produces a new kind of stress — the stress of wondering if the package ordered will arrive in time for the big day.

One of Forrester's customer experience key frameworks is called "the customer experience ecosystem." This ecosystem is an observation of the fact that companies that deliver good customer experiences understand that their businesses exist in a highly complex network that extends far beyond the walls of their headquarters. This includes partners like agencies, suppliers, tech vendors, contractors, etc., etc. And all of these other residents of the ecosystem can make or break a great customer experience.

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