CX Q&A With Nancy Clark, Senior Vice President — Operational Excellence, Verizon

There’s a good chance that you’re a Verizon customer. I am; I get my cable TV, Internet access, and home phone service from it.

All in all, there are 130 million of us Verizon customers — and that’s a daunting challenge for Verizon. How do you — how can you — create a high-quality, consistent customer experience for all those people when they’re buying and using such diverse products?

The answer: business process discipline. And that’s why we invited Nancy Clark to speak at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East, 2014. Nancy is Verizon’s senior vice president, operational excellence, a business process maven, and the sharp point of the spear for the company’s customer experience improvement initiative.

Nancy was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about what she’s doing. Read on for insight into how Verizon rose in every category of our Customer Experience Index that it’s in this year.

Those of you who’ll be with us in New York on Tuesday, June 24, can hear even more from Nancy. I hope to see you there!

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

A: Verizon’s history dates back more than a century in some parts of our business. Like all good companies, we’ve always had a philosophy of putting the customer first. At the heart of this is a shared credo — our aspirational statement about who we are as a company. It fits on one page, but the word “customer” appears 10 times, and the first line is, “We have work because our customers value what we do.”

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Customer Experience Q&A With Stephen Cannon, President And CEO, Mercedes-Benz USA

When I was 10 years old, I heard my father and my Uncle Bob talking about the car they’d most like to own. Noticing me, Uncle Bob asked, “How about you, Harley? What car do you want to drive when you grow up?”

I immediately answered, “A Mercedes!”

My father’s eyes widened as Uncle Bob replied, “You have excellent taste.”

Forty years later, Mercedes-Benz still symbolizes “excellent taste” for me and millions of other people around the globe. It’s not just about high quality: The Mercedes brand sets a standard of comparison; it’s shorthand for “great experience” and “luxury.”

And that’s why we’re so excited that Stephen Cannon, the president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, is our lead-off industry speaker at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East next week in New York. Cannon is just perfect as the keynote address for an event with the theme “Good Is Not Good Enough” — because for Mercedes-Benz, just being “good” would be a serious disappointment.

As we approach the event, Stephen was nice enough to answer some of our questions about the Mercedes-Benz customer experience. Check out what he has to say — and I hope we both see you out in the audience next week at the New York Hilton.

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

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Customer Experience Q&A With John Maeda, Design Demigod

Okay, maybe “demigod” is a little over the top. But maybe not.

John Maeda is both design partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and chair of the eBay Design Advisory Board, where he collaborates with design leaders across eBay to disseminate design thinking. But that’s just what he’s doing now. He previously served as the president of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and before that, he was a professor and head of research at the MIT Media Lab.

Now where I come from (Cambridge, Massachusetts, these days), RISD and the Media Lab are synonymous with innovative thinking. But eBay already changed the way about 145 million people shop — most people would say that’s already pretty innovative. So how do you improve innovation by disseminating design thinking at eBay?

We wanted to hear John’s thoughts on that topic — and others — so we invited him to speak at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East, 2014. Attendees can hear him talk on Wednesday, June 25th, at the Hilton New York.

In advance of John’s talk, he was kind enough to answer some of our questions about what he’s been doing and why. I hope you enjoy John’s responses, and I look forward to seeing many of you in New York on June 24th and 25th!

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

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Customer Experience Q&A With Steve Quirk, SVP, Trader Group, TD Ameritrade

Do you like those thinkorswim commercials from TD Ameritrade as much as I do? Because I love them. Although that’s not the reason we recruited Steve Quirk, a senior vice president (SVP) at TD Ameritrade, to speak at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East in New York this June.  

Sure, Steve was responsible for the development of new trading tools and technology enhancements for the thinkorswim trading platform. And he does an incredible job of connecting customer experience improvements to technology innovation (as you’ll see if you read on).

No, we recruited Steve because TD Ameritrade shot up seven points in our Customer Experience Index this year, edging ahead of last year’s leader in the investment category, the formidable Vanguard. How it did that and why it did that is a story we want customer experience aficionados to hear.

In the run-up to the event, Steve answered a series of our questions about some of things he’ll talk about. His answers appear below.

I hope you enjoy his insights, and I look forward to seeing many of you in New York on June 24th and 25th!

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

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Ta Da! Announcing The Speakers At Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East, 2014 — June 24th and 25th in NYC

It’s that great time of year when I finally get to talk publicly about Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals in New York at the end of June. If you’ve ever been to one of our events, you know that we always have a theme, and this year that theme is “Why Good Is Not Good Enough.”

We picked our theme because of the good news/bad news story told by our Customer Experience Index (CXi) results this year. First, here’s the good news: The number of brands in the “very poor” category of the CXi is down to one out of 175 brands we studied. What’s more, only a handful of brands — 10% — are in the “poor” category. Together, those findings show that as customer experience improvement efforts got traction over the past year, the number of truly awful experiences dropped like a rock.

Now for the bad news: Just 11% of brands in the CXi made it into the “excellent” category.

Taken together, those two pieces of news mean that most brands are bunched up in the middle of the curve — not awful in the eyes of their customers but not differentiated either. I think of this situation as “okay is the new poor” or, in my darker moments, “the year of ‘meh.’” Regardless, it adds up to the same thing: A merely good customer experience is no longer good enough if you want incremental sales, positive word of mouth, and better customer retention.

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Customer Experience In Asia Pacific: More Advanced Than You Might Suspect

For the past two weeks, I’ve been on the other side of the planet, spending a few days each in four very different cities: Sydney, Singapore, Beijing, and Shanghai. While Sydney was much like I remembered it — an exotic version of San Francisco but with better weather — the Singapore skyline had changed drastically and now appears to be a science-fiction version of the seaport I remembered. (If you think I’m kidding, just do a search on “Marina Bay Sands Hotel.”)

In contrast to Sydney and Singapore, I hadn’t been to either Beijing or Shanghai before. I was blown away by how vibrant those cities are and how much prosperity is on display: If the Chinese economy is truly slowing down, you wouldn’t know it from all the luxury cars on the road.

Despite all the diversity I saw on my trip, for me, there was one constant across all four cities: the high level of interest in customer experience.

In Sydney, I gave talks about customer experience to three different groups of 20 to 40 people each. Even though the attendees came from very diverse companies — like insurers, quick-serve restaurants, technology vendors, and giant professional services firms — all three groups asked questions that showed this wasn’t their first CX rodeo. 

I also gave a speech to the digital team at a major bank, and as a bonus, I got to see the company’s chief experience officer give a talk. Frankly, there are a lot of US and European banks that could learn from that large, enthusiastic, clued-in group.

My time in Singapore started out with a customer experience ecosystem mapping workshop for around 35 people. This was also a diverse group, with varying levels of customer experience expertise, even among attendees from the same company. They all picked up on the concepts, though, and generated an impressive amount of insight. 

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Customer Experience Predictions For 2014

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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The Path To Customer Experience Differentiation

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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Speakers At Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum EMEA Show That They’re On The Path To Customer Experience Maturity

Last month it was my pleasure to host Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals EMEA in London. The theme for the event was “boost your customer experience to the next level,” which we picked because we know that attendees of our events are at widely (sometimes wildly!) different levels of customer experience maturity.

What is “customer experience maturity”? We define it as the extent to which an organization routinely performs the practices required to design, implement, and manage customer experience in a disciplined way. In other words, does the organization apply the same level of business discipline to customer experience as it does to well-established business practices like marketing, logistics, and accounting?

In our study of how companies become mature at the practices in the customer experience discipline, we’ve discovered that successful firms all follow the same path, which passes through four phases:

  • Repair. Companies find broken experiences, fix them, and measure the results.
  • Elevate. Firms start to adopt practices that lead them to deliver sound experiences in the first place.
  • Optimize. Companies become systematic at customer experience practices.
  • Differentiate. 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.
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Q&A With Darren Bentham, Chief Customer Officer, Southern Water

Design is, without a doubt, the sexiest of the six customer experience (CX) disciplines. So when we talk about CX design at Forrester, our favorite example comes from a really sexy industry: water utilities.

That’s right — water utilities. And one in particular: Southern Water, located in the southeast of the UK.

We like the Southern Water example because it shows that CX design is not about what shade of blue your logo should be, and it’s not just for people who wear black turtlenecks. No, CX design is about a repeatable problem-solving process that incorporates the needs of customers, employees, and other business stakeholders.

And that’s why we invited Darren Bentham, chief customer officer at Southern Water, to speak at our SOLD OUT Forum For Customer Experience Professionals EMEA in London on November 19th and 20th. Darren has taken on one of the biggest, toughest CX challenges we know of: installing thousands of water meters for customers who have never had them before, didn’t ask for them, and in many cases don’t want them. And yet, by applying CX design principles, he’s making this a positive experience for all parties involved.

In the run-up to the event, Darren took the time to respond to a series of questions about what he’s been doing to improve customer experience and what advice he’d give to others in his shoes. His answers appear below.

I hope you enjoy his insights, and I look forward to seeing many of you in London on November 19th and 20th!

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

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