Announcing Our Annual Benchmark On The State Of US Consumers And Technology In 2016

Gina Fleming

In 2016, consumers of all ages are extremely connected — the average US online adult uses more than four connected devices, three-quarters use a smartphone and more than half use a tablet. Forrester’s annual report on the State of Consumers and Technology: Benchmark 2016, US reveals the most important consumer technology trends that marketers need to know. This data-rich report is a graphical analysis of a range of topics about consumers and technology and serves as a benchmark for US consumers’ level of technology adoption, usage, and attitudes. Our annual benchmark report is based on Forrester's Technographics® online benchmark survey that we've been fielding since 1998. We analyze our findings through a generational lens, including Gen Z, Gen Y, Gen X, Younger Boomers, Older Boomers, and the Golden Generation.

What did we find this year? All generations use more devices this year than a year ago, but which devices they use depends heavily on age. For example, 84% of Gen Zers (ages 18-27) use a smartphone and laptop, but only 44% use a desktop computer and 49% use a tablet. Their older Millennial counterparts, Gen Yers (ages 28 -36), have higher incomes and in addition to using smartphones and tablets, two-thirds use a tablet. In contrast, three-quarters of the Golden Generation (ages 72+) uses a desktop computer, and only a third use a smartphone. 

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Don’t Let That Social Post Pass You By

Jessica Liu

Social marketing often feels like running a race against an unlikely competitor: your own customers. In the social media world, consumer behaviors and technical functionality evolve so quickly that the minute you feel good about your social presence and perhaps have even pulled neck-and-neck with your customers’ social media behaviors, they surge ahead and leave you in the dust. What’s your technique to keep up with this superior runner in this course-shifting race? Do you have a methodical training approach before the big race or do you improvise after you push off from the starting block? Most runners will tell you that it’s preferable to be in the former camp and not the latter.

The pace of social technology change and the volume of short shelf-life content make social networks a real-time media channel. Yet, marketers have trouble managing social content at the speed that it demands. Unlike traditional media channels (TV, print, and even digital banner ads), “social media” and “we’ve got months to do this” are rarely uttered in the same breath. As part of our new Social Marketing Playbook launch, the Processes chapter gives marketers a structure for managing social content in real-time and striking a balance between inbound inquiries and outbound messaging. Marketers ultimately need:

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Banks and Fintechs: Better together

Aurelie L'Hostis

Old met new in the world of retail banking on July 28, as BPCE, France’s second largest banking group, announced the acquisition of the German digital bank and fintech pioneer Fidor Bank.

Founded in 2009, Fidor Bank has built a community of 350,000 users across Germany and the UK, who are rewarded for offering peer-to-peer financial advice and invited to participate in the social co-creation of products and services. The startup has also developed a proprietary technology platform – the Fidor Operating System (fOS) – which enables open and fast API banking, offering its 120,000 customers access to a wide selection of services provided by other fintech partners.

The news about BPCE inking a deal with Fidor came as no surprise. As I discuss in a recent report, the digital banks which have proliferated over the past few years – competing to win customers by offering more compelling digital customer experiences than those offered by established banks – are struggling to acquire large numbers of customers and reach profitable scale. Why? They operate on narrow margins, can’t sustain large marketing campaigns, and create limited perceived added-value for customers.

Fidor has done well since its launch, hitting profitability for the first time in 2012. The startup however made the decision to shift its business model away from just direct-to-consumer offerings, and now white-label its technology to financial institutions. The telecom operator Telefónica in Germany recently partnered with the fintech to launch a mobile banking service for its customers.

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CXDC 2016 Q&A with The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Rick Parrish

CXDC 2016 is just around the corner, and we have an incredible agenda featuring 25+ Federal CX leaders and top Forrester analysts. 

I asked two of our speakers from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – Sarah Brooks, Director, Insight & Design and Julia Kim, Chief of Staff, Veterans Experience – to chat about some of the ways VA is improving the customer experience (CX) for veterans.

Rick: The CX team at VA has been very busy! What two or three CX improvements over the past year are you most proud of? Why?

Sarah and Julia: It has been busy! Especially when we are trying to build the office while also doing the work. We are proud of many things (more than we can put into a blog post!), but here are a few things we’ll highlight:

  • Reframing the Disability Compensation and Pension application process from Veterans’ points of view. There were only five people in our office, and Secretary Bob asked us to look into this thing that he was getting a lot of calls and emails about. What we found is that VA is not managing our Veteran-facing touchpoints during this process – in fact, we have very few front stage touchpoints at all. We have done a lot of work to optimize the back stage (see figure 1). We were not thinking about how to help Veterans understand what was happening and why it was happening. This was our first exposure to what has become a recurring theme at VA.
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Bringing Order To Chaos: Unraveling the Social Technology Web

Erna Alfred Liousas

Marketers have more choices then they really need when it comes to social marketing tools. Market fragmentation and consolidation, along with the internal organizational struggles we all face, make it a challenging time to be a marketer.

But don’t worry — we’re here to help! After analyzing the marketplace and interviewing 35 companies ranging from brands to agencies to vendors, my “Unraveling The Social Technology Web” report discusses:

  • The evolution of the social marketing technology landscape
  • Principles for determining if you truly need a particular technology
  • An overview of technologies that support specific social tactics across the customer life cycle

Our team will continue writing reports analyzing this space, so feel free to share the topics that interest you along with the challenges you face with social technologies.

CX Marketing 2016 Singapore: Guest Q&A with David Peller, Booking.com

Fred Giron

Some of you may have seen my earlier blog post on why you should attend CX Marketing Singapore 2016! Our annual Forrester Singapore event returns in less than two weeks, and I'm excited to hear from our own Forrester experts as well as esteemed industry speakers on how customer experience is and will continue to be the key differentiator for organizations to succeed in the age of the customer.

I hope to see you at the Marina Mandarin on August 25 — register here if you haven't already! In the meantime, here's a sneak peek of what to expect at the Forum. I had the opportunity to speak with David Peller, ‎Director, Strategic Partnerships, Asia Pacific at Booking.com, who gave us the inside scoop on how Booking.com has organized itself to be customer-obsessed, which it believes gives it an edge today. Here's what he had to say:

How has the age of the customer affected the travel industry? How have you seen your customer needs evolve?

If you think back to the time when travel was essentially an offline shopping experience, the customer used to spend hours deliberating with imperfect information, guided by a travel agent. Today, technology democratizes the travel experience — and you don't just have to take the view of one person for granted. On Booking.com, we have more than 100 million verified reviews of properties, places and activities, which provides engaging content for every potential traveler to explore.

Can you tell us briefly about Booking.com's digital transformation program and the approach that you've taken?

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EO + 6: The B2B Marketing Playbook Has Launched!

Peter O'Neill

At Forrester, “EO + 6” is code for the publication status of a playbook. It stands for Executive Overview plus six reports – at which point, we formally launch the playbook with its special links and landing page on Forrester.com. Playbooks are designed to help clients succeed with complex programs, such as organizational transformation.

Get Ready For The B2B Marketing Renaissance

The next wave of competitive advantage for B2B companies will come from deepening customer knowledge and taking action based on an obsessive desire to deliver what their customers want before their competitors do. This fundamentally changes the role of B2B marketers; they need to evolve from brand stewards, lead generation machines, and sales supporters to architects of customer engagement across the customer life cycle. The B2B marketing playbook provides practical guidance for B2B professionals who are leading and living that transformation. 

The Playbook Report Titles Tell The Story

Executive. Overview:  Turn B2B Marketing Into A Customer-Obsessed Organization

Landscape:  Get Ready For The B2B Marketing Renaissance

Tools And Technology: TechRadar™: B2B Marketing Technologies, Q3 2016

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Why Agency Culture Should Matter To Marketers

Sarah Sikowitz

Marketers often voice their frustration to me about the rate of turnover at their agencies.  It is hard to lose a great team member, but it’s more difficult to be left holding the bag for bringing someone new up to speed on the business. 

And this happens frequently. Agencies compete with each other, tech companies, startups and brands to attract and retain the best employees. Many use culture as a differentiator in the talent wars.  In fact, 77% of agencies we surveyed listed culture as a way to engage and retain employees.  Even with these efforts, agencies suffer from low employee morale and rising employee turnover. 

For this reason, it’s critical for marketers to pay attention to an agency’s efforts towards building and nurturing its culture.  Marketers that build this evaluation into the agency vetting process and look for a cultural fit will experience less turnover on accounts, higher quality work and a better relationship with their agency.

And agencies that connect leadership behavior, hiring efforts, employee engagement and new business efforts to culture will build working environments that attract and retain talent, while delivering superior client experience.

Read Ignore Your Agency's Culture At Your Own Risk to learn more and reach out to me if you’d like to learn more about how to integrate a culture assessment into your agency search or relationship.

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Thoughts on Customer Experience Strategy: Should All CX Be Awesome?

Amit Bhatia

So I visit this coffee shop close to office pretty often. The other day I was waiting in line and I paused to ask myself – why do I keep coming here? I mean, everything about the exercise including the taste is pretty unremarkable. I order, I’m served, I leave. So then why do I repeatedly give them my business?

You guessed it. I go there day after day, month after month because it is – wait for it… convenient. And predictable. Certainly not because it’s “awesome”. I’m not looking for a fake smile or a scripted line. It’s a really tiny part of my day. My expectations are minimal, they are met, and I’m satisfied. That’s it.

Globally, companies swoon over the superior experience delivered by the likes of Amazon and Apple; paeans have been written about Zappos’ legendary customer service. Last time I looked, a Zappos service associate apparently spent over 10 hours on a service call! Good for them!

Should you follow suit? May be not.

Of course CX is critical. In fact, in the Age of the Customer, we propose it’s the only way forward.

However, people don’t need “awesome” all the time. In my recently published Forrester report Should All Customer Experiences Be Awesome? I dissect this very issue.

At Forrester, we talk to many companies as well as customers the world over. In our experience we observe two things:

  • Customers and companies compare experiences across industries.  And, as a result,
  • CX laggards often want to emulate leaders. For instance, Citi, acting on Apple-fever went ahead and built an Apple Store-inspired “bank of the future” using the same architects.
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Talent Management For The Customer-Obsessed Organization

Rick Parrish

Employees are the lifeblood of a customer-obsessed enterprise. No matter how advanced a company's technology, how big its data, or how trendy it’s marketing, businesses today simply cannot succeed without employees who devote themselves to customers. However, many companies struggle to build a customer-obsessed workforce because they:

  • Hire for skills and experience. Siloed hiring managers focus primarily on job candidates' technical skills and experience and seek little input from applicants' potential colleagues. Knowing how well candidates can code, lift boxes, or write marketing copy is important. However, skillset alone doesn't tell employers if applicants are willing and able to use their skills and cooperate with their coworkers in customer-obsessed ways.
  • Have weak training programs. Most training programs consist of long and dry classroom, online, and coaching sessions rather than short and engaging sound bites that employees can access when they need to. Even worse, training focuses solely on employees' job responsibilities, businesses processes, and operation of technical systems — topics that rarely help employees become more customer-obsessed.
  • Fail to recognize and reward customer obsession. Our data shows that although 42% of companies claim that excellent customer treatment is one of their core values, only one-third of companies actually hold employees accountable and tie employees' incentives to customer experience (CX) metrics.
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