Q&A With Clyde Guinn, President, Days Inn Worldwide, Wyndham Hotel Group

Harley Manning

How’s this for a challenge? Imagine you’re the president of one of the largest economy hotel chains in America. Your goal: deliver a consistent, high-quality on-brand customer experience across all of your properties.

Now add in that the brand is more than 40 years old, you have 15 major direct competitors, and the behavior of your customer base is changing rapidly. And oh, yeah, you have to work through franchisees.

If you can imagine all that, then you might have a rough idea of what it’s like to be Clyde Guinn. I love talking to Clyde because he’s both grounded in the traditional hotel business and on top of how that business is rapidly changing. In the run-up to Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals West in Los Angeles on October 9th and 10th, Clyde was kind enough to answer some questions that we posed to him.

I hope you enjoy his responses as much as I do, and I look forward to seeing many of you in Los Angeles!

Q: When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?

A: As a hospitality company, customer service is something that we, as well as our industry in general, have always focused on to some degree. It’s a vital part of ensuring success. I think what’s changed, or perhaps evolved, is how we measure the customer experience. 

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Evolve Beyond Omnichannel To Delivering Unified Experiences

Ronald Rogowski

What does “omnichannel” really mean? And is it a viable strategy for customer experience professionals?

For customer experience professionals, omnichannel — the popular buzzword used to describe a company’s efforts to wrangle a consistent experience across all channels — is already legacy thinking that represents a limited approach for designing and delivering services. Instead of thinking about all channels, companies should focus on designing content and services delivered in specific touchpoints — the touchpoints that align with customer needs and the business' strategic goals.

This requires new thinking about the ways that customers interact. Companies must:

  1. Understand target customers and their real goals. Using ethnography and other exploratory techniques, customer experience professionals can get to the bottom of how customers operate and what they really care about, which ultimately determines what they need and where they need it. 
  2. Design services first. In a recent conversation with a large financial institution, we learned that the bank does not have separate touchpoint teams. Instead, it has a deposit team, for example, responsible for all related services and deployed appropriately across relevant touchpoints.
  3. Deliver in the right touchpoints for target customers. Giffgaff, for example, doesn’t have phone support. Its model is based on an active community populated by a very specific type of user.
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Build Enjoyable Experiences

Ronald Rogowski

We’ve probably all heard some story about over-the-top customer experience in our day. Like the story about the family on vacation at the Ritz Carlton, Bali. The family of a child with a severe food allergy was on vacation. The food they’d brought for their child spoiled en route. When they arrived, the manager of the hotel consulted with his executive chef who was unaware of any shops on the island that stocked the specialty items that had spoiled. But he did recall a shop in Singapore, where his mother-in-law lived, which stocked food the child could safely eat. So what did he do? He called his mother-in-law had her get the items and jump on a plane to Bali. For those of you who are curious, that’s a 3-plus-hour flight!

Stories such as these stand out for obvious reasons. But they don’t scale. That’s why companies need to focus on delivering great experiences, day in and day out, with products and services that meet customer needs, are easy to use, and are enjoyable.

It’s this last piece — enjoyability — that’s so hard to pin down. Why? First off, enjoyability is subjective. What one person thinks of as fun, another person thinks of as foolish. Skydiving, anyone? (I’ve tried it and think it’s kind of cool, but maybe it’s not your thing.) What’s more, many of the things that we think benefit customers, such as providing seemingly unlimited product configurations or service choices, are actually the opposite of enjoyable because they cause anxiety and hurt the decision-making process. And to top things off, it’s hard to sustain an enjoyable experience from start to finish. Ever been to a theater to watch an otherwise-satisfying movie only to be disappointed with the ending? How about being treated like royalty when considering signing up for a service only to be disappointed by how you were treated once you became a paying customer?

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Q&A With Tony Ezell, Vice President, Chief Customer Officer, Eli Lilly And Company

Harley Manning

Interest in customer experience at pharmaceutical companies has shot up in the past few years. This came home to me more than a year ago at our 2012 Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East, where every meeting I took was with one or more decision-makers at pharma companies.

That’s one reason why I’m so excited that Tony Ezell, the chief customer officer at Eli Lilly, will be speaking at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals West in Los Angeles on October 9th and 10th (he’ll be on the first day, right after the opening Forrester keynote by Megan Burns).

But there’s another reason why I’m looking forward to Tony’s speech. In talking to him during the run-up to our event, I’ve gotten a good look at what he’s doing and why it matters to so many people. Because let’s face it: The prescription drugs we take go right to the most important experience in most of our lives — our health.  

Why does customer experience matter to a life-sciences company like Lilly, and what is it doing to make it better? We recently put some of these questions to Tony, and you can read his answers below. I hope you enjoy them and that I get to see you in Los Angeles where we can all hear Tony in person.

Q. When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?

A. Lilly’s focus on customer experience actually can be traced back to the company’s beginning in 1876 when Colonel Eli Lilly went against the trend of the time and focused on developing products of the highest quality to provide the best experience for his customers.

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Q&A with Harit Talwar, President, US Cards, Discover Financial Services

Harley Manning

We all felt extremely lucky to score Harit Talwar as a speaker for Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals West, which is coming up on October 9th and 10th in Los Angeles. Why lucky? It’s for two main reasons.

First, Discover has been a consistently strong performer in our Customer Experience Index, in a virtual dead heat with American Express. Yet Discover’s customer experience story is not nearly as well known as the American Express story, so we’ve been dying to bring it to a Forrester stage.

Second, Harit blew me away in our first forum prep call. Not only does he really get the concept of a customer experience journey, but also he’s been living it. What’s more, he brings results in terms of metrics like customer loyalty scores, wallet share, and J.D. Power scores as proof that what Discover has been doing actually works.

In the run-up to the forum, Harit recently took the time to answer questions about what Discover is doing and why it's doing it. It’s my pleasure to be able to share his answers with you, and I hope to see you in Los Angeles where we’ll all get to meet Harit in person.

Q. When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why? 

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Engaging Employees For Customer Experience Success: Your Questions Answered

Sam Stern
Earlier this month, I delivered a webinar about sharpening customer experience focus with employee engagement. I described the correlation between more engaged employees and better performance on business and customer metrics. I shared examples of how companies are planning, socializing, and reinforcing engagement in ways that drive improved customer experience outcomes. There were some great questions posed during the call, and I wanted to answer them again here.
 
Q: What are the measurements or the questions being asked to gauge employee engagement?
 
A: Virtually all companies measure employee engagement today. I would encourage everyone to take a look at their existing employee engagement survey to see what questions are being asked in their organizations. Here are some examples of the broad categories typically covered in employee engagement surveys:
  • Employee Net Promoter Score (NPS), loyalty, and satisfaction.
  • Support and competence of direct managers.
  • Confidence in the company’s vision and mission.
  • Belief that company is customer-focused.
  • Clear communication and collaborative work environment.
  • Growth and career opportunities.
  • Empowerment and flexibility, including autonomy and work-life balance.
  • Rewards and recognition.
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Q&A With Tom Feeney, President And CEO, Safelite AutoGlass

Harley Manning

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Tom Feeney speak about customer experience at an event in Boston. I was fascinated by his story of how Safelite went from a company that put shareholders first to one that put employees first. The reasoning behind this move: Highly engaged employees will deliver a great experience, which will improve business performance and ultimately make everyone happy (including shareholders).

As it turns out, that reasoning is correct. From 2006 to 2012, Safelite’s sales grew by high double digits, and its profits grew by triple digits. (I’ll let Tom reveal the actual numbers when he keynotes on the second day of Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals West in Los Angeles on October 9 and 10).

Despite these impressive results, Safelite is now moving into a new phase of its transformation journey. It’s that multipart voyage toward customer experience maturity that makes Tom’s story a perfect match for our event theme, “Boost Your Customer Experience To The Next Level.”

In the run-up to the event, we asked Tom to answer a few questions about what Safelite is doing and how it’s doing it. His answers appear below. I hope you enjoy them, and I also hope to see you in Los Angeles!

Q. When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?

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New Research: VoC Vendor Landscape 2013 — We'd Love To Hear From You

Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian

We are working on a new report on the voice-of-the-customer (VoC) vendor landscape 2013.

The report will provide a guide to the current landscape of the VoC vendor market as well as the features and services currently delivered by a variety of vendors and will show where we see the growth potential in the future. 

To all CX and CI professionals who use VoC vendors: We would love to hear about your experience with your current and past vendors. If you would like to take part in this research, please reach out to Corey Stearns (cstearns@forrester.com).

To all VoC vendors: We just launched a vendor landscape overview survey. If you help companies listen to, interpret, share, and act on customer feedback and haven't received the survey, please reach out to Corey Stearns (cstearns@forrester.com).

Align Employee Rewards And Incentives With Customer Outcomes

Sam Stern

The idea of customer-focused rewards and incentives for employees isn’t new. But lack of widespread adoption points to missed opportunities for many companies. Forrester asked customer experience (CX) executives whether or not their firms link employee recognition to customer experience metrics, and the vast majority of informal and formal reward programs are not tied to customer experience outcomes.

 

My recent interview with Blair Skramstad from John Deere Financial reinforced why connecting employee and customer goals is so important. Blair told me that they recently rolled out a customer experience storytelling competition to collect great CX stories and shift their culture to be more customer-centric. One of their customer experience champions expressed frustration that so many of the story submissions she received were anonymous. She discovered that employees were afraid that their managers would be upset that they were spending time with customers as opposed to their primary responsibilities. This is a perfect example of where well-crafted customer-centric goals would have made a difference. 
 
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You Asked, We Answered! Q&A About Customer Experience Innovation

Kerry Bodine

In July, I delivered a webinar about customer experience innovation. I explained that in order to create innovative experiences that drive differentiation and long-term value, companies need to triangulate on consumer needs, the business model, and the brand. I received several great questions during the call, and I thought it would be worth answering them again (in brief) here:

How many companies are following that process of developing customer experience innovation?

Unfortunately, not as many as I’d hope.

In Forrester’s recent survey of 100 customer experience professionals, 69% percent of respondents reported that their companies have dedicated personnel for customer experience innovation. Sixty-four percent have allocated time to innovation activities. And 55% have dedicated innovation budgets.

These numbers sound promising — but they just don't add up. In 2013, only 8% of the companies in Forrester’s annual Customer Experience Index received a top grade from their customers — and that's a pathetically low number in comparison to the amount of professed innovation in the industry.

Companies seem to be missing the point about aligning innovation efforts with consumer needs, business model, and brand — and that’s what keeping many from differentiating.

Is it possible that “staying with the lines” of the current business model or corporate brand squashes innovation?

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