Entries For Forrester's Voice Of The Customer Awards 2010 — Wow!

Harley Manning

We just finished judging the entries for Forrester's Voice of the Customer Awards 2010. Announcing the winners will have to wait until we’re onstage at the Customer Experience Forum in New York on June 29. But there is something I want to announce right now: I am really impressed by the entries! :-)

Because I was also a judge last year, I couldn’t help but notice some big changes from last year. Here they are in no particular order:

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CEO As Chief Customer Officer

Harley Manning

In preparation for our upcoming Customer Experience Forum in New York at the end of June, I’ve been having phone discussions with our speakers and their people. Yesterday Robinette Dixon from Sprint pointed out something I hadn’t quite realized. Two of the companies that are speaking have a lot in common despite the fact that they could hardly be in more different industries.

First there’s Sprint. Dan Hesse took over as CEO of Sprint, which is headquartered in Kansas, in December of 2007.  He immediately made customer experience a priority and set out to ingrain customer experience into the company’s culture and processes. You can see evidence of the results in the 15 percentage point rise Sprint made this year in our Customer Experience Index.

Then there’s H&R Block. Our Day Two speaker, Sabrina Wiewel, is Chief Tax Network Officer at that company, which is also based in Kansas. But the bigger coincidence (no, this isn’t a post about Kansas) is that H&R Block also got a new CEO recently: Russ Smyth, who took over in August of 2008. Like Hesse, Smyth made customer experience a priority. Among other changes he literally flipped the corporate org chart upside down to put customers at the top, and re-engineered how the field offices interact with customers.

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US Consumers Aren't Satisfied With Web-Store Shopping

Adele Sage

Forrester surveyed US consumers about their satisfaction with Web-to-store and store-to-Web transitions in three retail segments — apparel/accessories/footwear, consumer electronics, and wireless phones and service.

The results: Satisfaction with both Web-to-store and store-to-Web shopping is low.

  • Consumer electronics: 66% satisfied with Web-to-store shopping, and 55% satisfied with store-to-Web shopping.
  • Apparel/footwear/accessories: 60% satisfied with Web-to-store shopping, and 53% satisfied with store-to-Web shopping.
  • Wireless products and services: 54% satisfied with Web-to-store shopping, and 48% satisfied with store-to-Web shopping.

Some of our other findings:

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What Makes A Centralized Customer Experience Team Successful?

Megan Burns

Last week I met with a group in charge of driving improvements to the company’s enterprise customer experience. They’re a small team with a big task – make the company culture more customer-centric. What makes the challenge even harder is that this team lacks the formal authority to force other organizations to change the way they do business. Instead they have to make people want to do things differently.

During the meeting they asked a question that I often hear from clients – what have other people like us done that has worked?  I had just completed a new report on that topic and was able to share some of the key findings from that research. Here’s a quick summary of what I told them:

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What Should Customer Experience Professionals Do About HTML5?

Ronald Rogowski

The increasing popularity of Apple’s iPhone and iPad – neither of which supports Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight – has piqued interest in HTML5 as an open source solution for creating Rich Internet Applications (RIAs).  Steve Jobs’ recent attack on Flash as being unfit for the iPhone calls into question the long-term value of player-based application platforms. But can HTML5 really replace Flash and Silverlight? 

To understand the user experience pros and cons of HTML5, Rich Gans – one of our Researchers serving customer experience professionals – talked to designers and developers at Cynergy Systems, EffectiveUI, Roundarch, and Yahoo! who are building complex online functionality. We have just published the results of this research in a report entitled “HTML 5: Is There Any Truth To The Hype?”

The truth is that while HTML5 is promising and can help improve experiences for text-based content, it is not yet a viable alternative to player-based technologies for designing rich, highly functional user experiences. 

The downside to using HTML5 today is that it:

  • Could lead to inconsistent experiences across today’s browsers
  • Will require that users download a browser that supports the technology
  • Compromises performance for graphics-heavy experiences

 

 However, there are a few places where HTML5 can help improve user experiences today, including: 

  • Experiences for people with disabilities
  • Apps that are solely intended for Apple devices
  • Producing text-heavy sites that require text resizing

 

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How Good Is The Customer Experience At Canadian Bank Sites In 2010?

Ronald Rogowski

As part of a larger project that Harley Manning explained in a recent blog post, I've published a document that evaluated the customer experience at six top Canadian Bank Web sites. The premise was simple: we wanted to test how easy it is for a user who wants to find a checking account at a bank with a local branch that has weekend hours. We also wanted to know the fee structure and minimum balance requirements.

How did the sites perform? Overall, they did poorly, with no site achieving a passing score on our Web Site User Experience Review methodology. All of the bank sites we reviewed provided the necessary content and function needed to complete the goal, but none of them did so in a way that was contextual, findable, understandable, and trustworthy. Specific problems that plagued the sites included missing or misplaced content and function, inefficient task flows, and poor use of space, to name a few.

On the plus side, each of the sites provided a lesson for others to learn from. For example, while National Bank of Canada scored lowest in our evaluation, its page that sets up the application process clearly lists eligibility criteria, the information required to open an account, and a clear list of the steps in the online application process.

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US Banks And Canadian Banks Under The Web Site User Experience Review Microscope

Harley Manning

I’m quite pleased to announce that we just published two reports that grade the user experience at major US banks and major Canadian banks, respectively.  What makes these reports special is that our colleagues who serve the eBusiness role published their own complementary reports on the same day. You can see their US report here and their Canadian report here.

Here’s some background: For several years Forrester has published annual reports that ranked public-facing bank sites from the perspective of an eBusiness professional. This year our customer experience research team collaborated with our eBusiness research team to create our own grading reports tailored to the unique needs of customer experience professionals. The result is a stereoscopic view of 12 banks (six in each country) from the different perspectives of two professional roles that work closely together in real life.

The reports from the customer experience team dive deep into user experience issues. They grade how well customers can accomplish their goals on bank sites. The reports from the eBusiness team summarize some of these findings and add in a competitive benchmark of bank content and functionality.

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Which Are The Leading UK Interactive Agencies For Web Design?

Jonathan Browne

 I'm pleased to announce that "The Forrester Wave™: UK Interactive Agencies — Web Design Capabilities, Q1 2010", is now available to Forrester clients on the Forrester Web site.

This report is an evaluation of the Web design capabilities of leading UK design agencies: AKQA, Amaze, Detica, EMC Consulting, LBi, Reading Room, Sapient Interactive, VML London, and Wunderman. Putting this together took six months of effort by a hard-working team that included Harley Manning, Angela Beckers, Richard Gans, William Chu and Shelby Catino.  

In our research, we found that Detica and Sapient Interactive led the pack for transaction-led projects, due in large part to the high usability scores earned by the client reference sites they provided for evaluation. AKQA, EMC Consulting, LBi, Reading Room, and Wunderman were Strong Performers for transaction-led projects, with AKQA's exemplary Brand Image Review scores moving it into the Leaders' circle for image-led projects. Rounding out the field, Amaze showed strength in multilingual projects and image-led projects, while VML London earned top scores from both reference clients for the business results it produced. Both agencies came in as Contenders.

All nine vendors in this report have significant market presence and capabilities to service large clients. They are all ranked in the top 25 UK agencies by fee revenue (using data published by New Media Age).

What sets the Wave apart from other industry rankings and awards is the transparent, fact-based evaluation that underpins it. Forrester clients have the ability to look at detailed vendor scorecards and see what the strengths and weaknesses of each agency are.

To gather information on the strength of each vendor's current offering (represented on the vertical axis) and strategy (represented on the horizontal axis), we used the following methods:

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CxPi vs. Stock Performance

Harley Manning

We recently posted the results of a Watermark Consulting study that showed a correlation between Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CxPi) rankings and stock market performance.

We asked our researcher Andrew McInnes to run the numbers again and see whether they held up to close scrutiny. Here’s what he did:

  • Reviewed the 2007 CxPi rankings.
  • Identified the 10 highest-ranked public companies (CXP Leaders) and the 10 lowest-ranked public companies (CXP Laggards). 
  • Calculated the average annual total returns of the Leader group and the Laggard group
  • Compared the results for each group to the  S&P 500 index for years 2007 – 2009.


Andrew’s  analysis confirmed Watermark’s findings: The customer experience leaders consistently outperformed the other two groups; the customer experience laggards consistently fell short.

Does this prove that good customer experience leads to good stock performance (or that the CxPi picks hot stocks)? No. Stock performance relies on many factors, including human irrationality.

However, the correlation does highlight a relationship we all intuitively understand: Companies that treat their customers well perform better than companies that don’t.  (And it sure looks like treating your customers poorly is a very bad idea, especially in an economic downturn.)

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Harley Manning

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