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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Location Technologies Show A Path To Improved Customer Experiences

Tony Costa

Location technologies used to be thought of as the domain of maps and navigation, but no more. Today, location is a critical enabler embedded in a growing number of app categories ranging from social networking to shopping to app discovery. Further, companies in retail, hospitality, transportation, healthcare, and other industries that have a strong emphasis on physical infrastructure are increasingly turning to location technologies as a means for improving their customer experiences. These companies are using location to: 

  • Personalize service. eBay Now is making product delivery more personal by delivering products to customer wherever they are -- not a street address, but literally where they are. So the next time you're camped out at Starbucks or the park and need something in about an hour, eBay  Now will bring it to you. In this case, eBay Now personalizes the experience by making the customer the destination, not an address.
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Want To See Forrester At SXSW? Vote Now!

Kerry Bodine

Each year, SXSW crowdsources part of its programming. For 2014, eight Forrester analysts have proposed presentations based on our current and upcoming research. If you’d like to see any of these presentations at SXSW, we’d love your vote. It’s easy: After a quick sign up, just follow the links below and give these sessions a thumbs up. Voting ends this Friday, September 6 at 11:59 PM CT. Thanks for your support, and we hope to see you in Austin!

Branded Customer Experience: The Path To Profits: Kerry Bodine

Wearables: The New Marketers' Challenge: Sarah Rotman Epps (panelist)

The Mobile Mind Shift: Josh Bernoff, Julie Ask

Context: Rescuing Us From Privacy's Dark Age: Fatemeh Khatibloo

Digital Disruption Will Make Everyone A Developer: James McQuivey

You Don’t Know Jack: Personalization & Big Data: Cory Munchbach

‘Paid, Owned, Earned’ Is Dead. What's Next?: Nate Elliott

From Every Screen to No-Screen: Next Gen Responsive: Sarah Rotman Epps (panelist)

The Magic Behind A Well Designed Mobile Experience

John Dalton

Recently I witnessed a bit of design magic.

I was reviewing some research with a customer experience colleague who suddenly realized that he’d left some notes on his laptop, which was tethered to his desk. Knowing that he just started using Evernote, I suggested he sign into his account on his iPhone (which never leaves his side) and get his notes there.

Voilà. 

For seasoned Evernote users there’s nothing magical about this. But for my coworker, something significant happened. Though young enough to be considered a digital native, he’s also worked long enough to associate productivity tools with desktops and laptops, client-side apps like Lotus Notes and Microsoft Office. His work life has been so deeply informed by PC-based tools that even though he knew, rationally, that he didn’t have to run back to his laptop to consult his notes, his habits told him otherwise. Only when he logged in via his iPhone and experienced what a cloud based note-taking app could do for him did his ideas about work begin to swerve a little. You could see it in his smile. That’s good design – it makes life a little better, opens up possibilities, adds a little gusto.

My colleague Tony Costa has been writing about these “post PC” experiences, and he’ll be speaking about this topic at both our Los Angeles and London CX Forums. He describes these emerging interactions as:

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The Perils Of Free

Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian

With fall coming up, I was reminiscing about my summer. And funnily enough, one of the lower moments had to do with free ice cream. Whole Foods had advertised an “Ice Cream Social” on a Saturday in July — free ice cream from 2 to 5pm. By the time my husband and I managed to squeeze my 8-week-old daughter and one set of grandparents into our car and drive there, it was 4:30pm. But that was still before 5pm, right? Yeah. Unfortunately, when we entered the store, there were no signs of an ice cream social anywhere. Turns out, the store had run out of ice cream earlier. What a bummer! Now all of us had to trudge back into the car without having eaten the ice cream we were all much looking forward to.

Now you might say “stop whining” since the ice cream was free. But here is the thing: Even though we certainly had no right to expect anything in the first place, Whole Foods changed the game by promising something. We were upset because Whole Foods didn’t deliver on its promise. And you know what? Only a few weeks later, it happened all over again! Whole Foods hosted an event in which people could bring back their used toothbrushes and get new ones. Guess what? When we got there, they only had toothbrushes for left-handed people left. Given that left-handed people only represent about 10% of the world’s population that was very disappointing and started to feel like a marketing gimmick.

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