7 Ways to Engage Third-Party Providers For A Unified Customer Experience

Paul Hagen

Firms must actively engage external vendors and third-party partners to deliver a unified customer experience (CX). Why? Because partners across the supply chain influence the quality of customer interactions. Sometimes these partners are the face of your company on the front lines in the form of agents, dealerships, value-added-resellers (VARS), distributors, and outsourced call center reps or technicians. Alternatively, they might act behind-the-scenes in the case of suppliers, outsourced credit or risk services, or billing and invoicing vendors. These 3rd parties are a critical component of what Forrester calls the customer experience ecosystem:  the complex, interdependent set of relationships and interactions between customers, employees, and partners that determine the quality of every customer experience.

Failing to engage partners not only degrades customer experiences, it costs companies money. Here are a few examples:

  • Supply chain issues that plagued Google around its Nexus devices through this past holiday season left countless customers empty handed, undermining sales numbers. It also resulted in the UK managing director at Google to issue a personal apology to British customers and offer a refund for shipping to those who were able to purchase a device.
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Creating Audi Fans

Harley Manning

To better compete in the US luxury automotive landscape, leadership at Audi of America had focused on improving three fundamental areas: the brand, the products, and the dealership. And they had made huge progress.

But according to Jeri Ward, director of customer experience at Audi of America, “The customer experience had not kept pace.”

Troubling data points made that clear: Customer loyalty was at 40%, and sales satisfaction was in 26th place out of 31 brands. But what really drove the problem home was this quote from an Audi customer: “The whole time the salesman spoke with me, he was eating Skittles out of a bag in front of me.”

Just imagine that you’re trying to buy a $60,000 to $90,000 car from someone who can’t be bothered to stop cramming junk food into his mouth. Would that work for you? I didn’t think so.

In this excerpt from Jeri’s speech at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East, she describes some of the tangible actions Audi took to solve this problem by creating a customer-centric culture that inspires passion for the Audi experience. The results the firm’s efforts produced are a testimony to its success: In just three years, sales satisfaction went from 26th place to 12th place, and the company has experienced 30 months of record sales.

As always, we welcome your comments! And if you're interested in seeing more great speakers like Jeri, check out our upcoming Forum For Customer Experience Professionals  in Los Angeles in October and London in November.

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Join Us At Customer Experience Forum West In Los Angeles, October 9 & 10, 2013!

Harley Manning

It feels as if this summer is flying by. Although it seems like yesterday when we put on Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum East in New York City, it was actually back in June. And now, our Forum For Customer Experience Professionals WEST in Los Angeles  is just eight weeks away.

Like CX Forum East, the theme of our Los Angeles event is “Boost Your Customer Experience To The Next Level.” We picked that theme to showcase examples of companies that improved the customer experience they provide, whether they were just starting out, already leading their industry, or somewhere in between. 

To kick off the event, Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Megan Burns will describe the four-step path to customer experience maturity that she details in her new report. The fascinating thing about this study is that when we started it, we thought we’d uncover several paths that companies have followed to get to success. But what we found instead is that there is only one path that’s proven to work, and many paths that lead to dead ends and failure.

In addition to speeches and track sessions by Forrester analysts like Megan and my co-author Kerry Bodine, our speaker lineup features senior leaders from companies that recently made major improvements to their customer experience. These executives include the president of Days Inn Worldwide, the CMO and VP of CRM at Sears, the chief customer officer at Eli Lilly, and the president and CEO of Safelite Autoglass. 

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Customer Experience Meets Business Technology In Forrester’s New Podcasts

Harley Manning

Like it or not, the success of your customer experience initiatives depends on business technology.  

That’s because the quality of customer interactions with your brand results from a complex system of interdependent people, processes, policies, and technology that we call the “customer experience ecosystem.” And just like a natural ecosystem, when your CX ecosystem gets out of balance, every part of it suffers — especially your customers.

An increasing number of CIOs, enterprise architects, and application developers get this. That surprises many of the marketers and other business people I talk to on a regular basis. But it shouldn’t: Business technology leaders are ideally placed to see the connective technology tissue needed to create a standout omnichannel customer experience.

To help shed insight into the complex interplay of customer experience and business technology, I recently sat down with Stephen Powers, Forrester vice president and research director serving application development and delivery professionals, to record a podcast. You can hear it in its entirety below (episode 1) or choose topic-sized cuts (episodes 2, 3, and 4).

You can also download the podcasts through iTunes and subscribe to Forrester's podcast series

And if you want to learn more about how to define, implement, and manage customer experience, just follow this link to our website dedicated to customer experience, Why Customer Experience? Why Now?

Enjoy!

Episode 1 (Note: This is the full episode; the other three are shorter cuts of the same conversation.)

Title: Building A Better Customer Experience

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The Discipline Of Delighting Clients At Vanguard

Harley Manning

Attendees at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East in New York saw some great speakers, including Jamie Moldafsky, chief marketing officer at Wells Fargo, John Vanderslice, the global head of luxury and lifestyle brands at Hilton, and Graham Atkinson, the chief marketing officer and chief customer officer at Walgreen.

Interestingly, the speaker with the highest audience rating was Paul Heller, managing director of the retail investor group at Vanguard. Paul spoke about how the firm creates customer loyalty by providing low-cost mutual funds that deliver long-term outperformance, combined with quality service and investor advocacy. At the center of this virtuous cycle: highly engaged employees.

How does Vanguard manage to create a culture that engages employees around providing a great client experience? In this video excerpt of Paul’s speech, he shares the secret: start with “why.”

If you're interested in seeing more great speakers like Paul, check out our upcoming Forums For Customer Experience Professionals in Los Angeles in October and London in November.

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Walgreens: At The Corner Of Experience And Innovation

Harley Manning

Who doesn’t know Walgreens? It’s an iconic American brand that’s been around for over 100 years.

But at Forrester’s Forum for Customer Experience Professionals in New York on June 26, Graham Atkinson showed us a Walgreens that’s totally different from the one we’ve come to know.  Graham is the Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer at Walgreens, and he’s leading the charge to transform the company from one that traditionally differentiated based on location, location, location to one that differentiates based on experience, experience, experience.

In this video excerpt from his speech, he describes three initiatives that are currently underway:

  • Delivering the well experience.
  • Transforming the community pharmacy
  • Taking the Walgreens brand to the world

As always, we welcome your comments! And if you're interested in seeing more great speakers like Graham, check out our upcoming Customer Experience Forums in Los Angeles in October and London in November.

Customer Experience Innovation Done Right

Kerry Bodine

These are extraordinary times.

Of course, I’m not the first person to say these words. That’s how JFK kicked off his man on the moon speech in May 1961. He also said (slightly paraphrased), “We choose to go to the moon in this decade — not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” It’s an inspirational line, but come on. The real reason that JFK decided to put a man on the moon wasn’t because it was difficult. It was because just one month earlier, Yuri Gagarin — a Soviet! — had become the first man to go into space. Putting a man on the moon wasn’t just some lofty scientific experiment. It was a battle between democracy and communism. It was a mission to win the hearts and minds of Americans and of people all over the world.

To achieve this mission, NASA needed to innovate.

One of the most critical things it needed to develop was a spacesuit that would keep the astronauts alive on the lunar surface — and for many years, NASA thought it was going to get its innovation from science fiction. The organization, for example, built many spacesuits with hard exoskeletons that made the astronauts look like manly, rugged bad asses.

But the real space suit innovation didn’t come from science fiction. It came from women’s underwear.

One company, Playtex, was thinking about the spacesuit opportunity differently. Playtex executives saw how they could combine the latex in their girdles with the nylon tricot from their bras to create a protective layer that could hold up to harsh demands of space.

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Getting To Wow At Wells Fargo

Harley Manning

Does a big bank care about customer experience? And if so – why?

Those are the fundamental questions answered for Wells Fargo by its CMO, Jamie Moldafsky, at Forrester’s Forum for Customer Experience Professionals in New York on June 25.

Going into the event, I didn’t envy Jamie’s task. The four large banks that dominate the U.S. retail banking industry don’t have stellar reputations for delivering a great customer experience. Feedback from their own customers bears this out: In Forrester’s Customer Experience Index, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Chase received scores ranging from 60 to 69 on a 100 point scale. In contrast, credit unions have an average score of 82, and regional banks like SunTrust Bank, PNC, and TD Bank have scores in the high 70s.

But to be fair, when you have 70 million customers spread across more than 90 businesses – as Wells Fargo does – delighting everyone might just be mission impossible.  And yet that’s exactly what Jamie and her team are trying to do on their journey to “get to wow.”

In the following video snippet of her speech, Jamie explains why customer experience is important to Wells, what she’s trying to accomplish, and the factors that make her mission both challenging and critically important.

As always, we welcome your comments! And if you're interested in seeing more great speakers like Jamie, check out our upcoming Customer Experience Forums in Los Angeles in October and London in November.

 

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Q&A With John Vanderslice, Global Head, Luxury And Lifestyle Brands, Hilton Worldwide

Harley Manning

Way back in January I spoke at the Luxury FirstLook conference put on by Luxury Daily in New York (a terrific event, by the way). Several of the other speakers intrigued me. One, in particular, gave a speech that I immediately wanted to bring to attendees at Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East: John T. A. Vanderslice, the global head of luxury and lifestyle brands at Hilton Worldwide (those brands being Waldorf Astoria and Conrad).

Here’s one of many things John said that struck me: "Today's luxury buyers make investments of passion." That’s a far cry from the way customer experience (CX) practitioners usually talk about emotional engagement. But it struck me as an authentic way to describe super-affluent buyers who’ll pay to reenact the life of a Roman gladiator or to take a trek through the wilds of Nepal.

I ambushed John on his way out the door and recruited him to speak at our forum, which he did earlier this week. He was great. And he was also gracious enough to answer some questions that we posed to him, which we’re now happy to share with you.

Enjoy!

John Vanderslice

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

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Announcing Forrester's 2013 Outside In Award Winners

Adele Sage

We just announced the winners of Forrester’s inaugural Outside In Awards at Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East this afternoon. The awards recognize organizations that excel at the practices needed for planning, creating, and managing a great customer experience. We accepted nominations in six categories that align with the six customer experience disciplines in our research: strategy, customer understanding, design, measurement, governance, and customer-centric culture.

To evaluate the submissions, each panel of judges graded each nomination form on five criteria: clarity of approach, impact on customers’ experiences, impact on business performance, degree of innovation, and lessons provided for other firms. Each category was judged independently, and there could be up to three winners in any category. Winners and finalists were chosen based on their scores.

And the winners are . . . 

  • Ally Bank for design.
  • American Cancer Society for measurement.
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for customer understanding.
  • The Lego Group for measurement.
  • Pitney Bowes for measurement.
  • PwC Australia for design.
  • Safelite AutoGlass for customer-centric culture.
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