Keeping Everybody "On Message"

Lori Wizdo

Well, the 2016 US presidential race has begun in earnest.  Every day a new candidate enters the race on the quest to headline the Republican or Democratic ticket.  I am a bit of a political junkie: not because I am a policy wonk, but because I am a marketing wonk. I love (ok, sometimes hate) to watch the unfolding strategies to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of the electorate. What interests me most is the struggle to stay ‘on message’.  The candidate wants the dialogue to be about the ‘brand message’: “Don’t Swap Horses When Crossing Streams”, Lincoln, 1864; “Return to Normalcy”, Harding, 1920; “Are you better off than you were 4 years ago”, Reagan, 1980; and, of course, “Yes, We Can” Obama, 2008.  But, it’s tough.  Political discourse requires a political platform of messages on issues and topics that are targeted to micro-constituencies.   Political operatives, surrogates and donors can get it all terribly muddled.  And when they inevitably do, the damage control often rises to an art form.

It’s something any B2B marketing exec can relate to. Keeping everybody on message is never an easy task. Despite the hours spent in claustrophobic conference rooms discussing mission and vision and value propositions, key stakeholders just seem to go rogue when communicating in practice: the CEO wings it in press interviews; the SVP of engineering explores the nuances of fascinating, but irrelevant features with a prospective buyer; marketing managers write content that misaligns benefits and customer problems; agencies propose promotional taglines that are slick but won't stick; and sales reps create their own special spiel (and use it faithfully regardless of client context).  

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We’ve Hit The B2B Marketing Ground Running

Peter O'Neill

Our new B2B marketing role pages are just one month old, and we have already published new reports on B2B channels, marketing through communities, B2B metrics that matter, and thought leadership programs. All topics at the sharp end of B2B marketing.

Our team was also present at Forrester’s two Marketing Leadership Forums held in New York and London. In addition to giving topic presentations there, we ran a 90-minute consulting workshop for over 100 B2B marketers in New York advising attendees on how to formulate their target personas and potential content for thought leadership programs and providing methodology and tools.

This week, Kim Celestre is presenting to thousands of marketers at the National Automotive Parts Association Expo in Las Vegas (yes, that is also B2B!). In fact, at our last research meeting, we discussed what’s the same across all different B2B industries and what varies. Here are some highlights from that discussion, some of which will appear in future reports. We hear that all B2B marketers feel that:

  • Digitally empowered buyers are disenfranchising sales (see this report)
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Don't Just Ask What CX Leaders Do; Ask Why It Works For Them

Megan Burns

Last week, I stayed in two different hotels in the greater Atlanta area. One was a Ritz-Carlton, and the other a Marriott.* Hearing those two brand names, you might be tempted to assume that the guest experience at the Ritz was far better than the one at the Marriott. But it wasn’t — at least not for me.

Don’t get me wrong, the Ritz was beautiful. But one aspect of the experience there drove me nuts. Every time that I stepped off the elevator into the lobby I was swarmed by no fewer than three extremely friendly, extremely eager employees. They bombarded me with questions about whether I wanted coffee (which I don’t drink), a donut, help with my luggage, or anything else my heart desired. Now in theory, I love that the staff was so attentive. But they missed a pretty important need of mine — the need for personal space. When I travel for work, I want to be greeted by friendly people. And I want to know that I can easily find an employee if and when I need help. But otherwise, I prefer to be left to my own devices. That’s exactly what I got at the Marriott.

This example serves as a great reminder that no experience is inherently good or bad. CX quality is a function of how well each brand aligns its CX vision with the needs, wants, and preferences of the particular set of customers that it chooses to serve (AKA its customer strategy).

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Announcing The Speakers For Forrester's CX Forum In New York, June 16th And 17th

John Dalton

At last, it’s spring. Even here in Boston, the bloom is on the forsythia — finally. And that means it’s time to announce the confirmed list of speakers for our biggest event of the year: Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals in New York (CXNYC), June 16th and 17th. We’ve got a doozy of a show on tap this time around.

This year’s event features more guest speakers, from a wider range of industries, than ever before. As your host for this forum, I’m thrilled to share such a strong lineup:

  • Raul Leal, CEO, Virgin Hotel Group.
  • Charlie Hill, distinguished engineer and CTO for design, IBM.
  • Beth Ann Kaminkow, CMO, Westfield Group.
  • Rasesh Patel, SVP, customer experience, DirectTV.
  • Rachel Shechtman, founder and CEO, Story.
  • Adam Weber, SVP of marketing, Dollar Shave Club.
  • Mark McCormick, SVP of customer experience, Wells Fargo.
  • Melody Lee, director, brand and reputation strategy, Cadillac.
  • Blaine E. Hurst, EVP, chief transformation and growth officer, Panera Bread.
  • Chris Brown, executive director, guest experience, New York Mets.
  • Kit Hickey, cofounder, head of experience, Ministry of Supply.
  • Parrish Hannah, global director, human machine interface, Ford Motor.
  • Scott Zimmer, head of design and innovation, Capital One.
  • Liz Crawford, CTO, Birchbox.
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The Data Digest: Tracking Consumers’ Smartphone Activities During The 2015 Super Bowl Event

Nicole Dvorak

The 2015 Super Bowl had 114 million viewers – making it the most watched television event in US history according to Nielson data. Forrester used its Technographics 360 approach, which combines multiple data sources, to understand how consumers used their smartphones on the big day.

Forrester tracked the smartphone behavior of 879 US online smartphone owners (18+) during the dates surrounding the Super Bowl as well as on the day itself. To better understand these mobile behaviors and add further context, Forrester engaged a group of 157 US participants (18+) in our ConsumerVoices online community. Finally, to capture the nature of public conversation overall, we leveraged social listening to explore topics and sentiment throughout the day across US consumers’ social media posts.

We found that on the day of Super Bowl 2015, consumers used the same apps that they do on a normal day, but certain mobile sites saw large increases in traffic. In particular, sports, food/drink, reference, health/wellness, shopping, and weather websites saw more visitors – in some cases, double the usual traffic.

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Federal Agencies Must Focus On Emotion To Create Great Government Customer Experiences

Rick Parrish

Think about the last time you went through airport security. Or applied for federal benefits. Or paid your taxes.

How did those experiences make you feel? What specific emotions did they invoke in you? Did you feel comforted, hopeful, and valued — or insulted, frustrated, and nervous?

Questions like these are the most important things for federal customer experience (CX) professionals to ask themselves, and our CX Index™ proves it. As my colleague Megan Burns writes in her new CX Index report, “Emotion is the biggest lever you have to pull” to improve CX. In fact, organizations at the top of the CX Index elicited positive emotions about 20 times as often as orgs at the bottom of the Index.

Every customer experience has three dimensions, called the “three E's” of CX: effectiveness, ease, and emotion. Our research shows that the emotions a customer experience elicits influence the quality of the experience more than ease and effectiveness in practically every industry — including government.

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The Digital Command Center: The New Must-Have For CMOs

Clement Teo

CMOs today are increasingly asked to help their firms adapt to increasingly powerful customers. Those who fail to do this risk affecting their company’s long-term viability. To cope, CMOs must lead the transformation of their firm’s strategic planning process to an outside-in perspective focused on the customer. High-performing companies have learned that as customer behavior adapts, so must their business strategy — and have moved from a yearly strategy exercise to a continuous process with a focus on customer value and loyalty. To succeed, CMOs must effectively harness outside-in intelligence and simultaneously collaborate with key C-suite peers to build unified strategies and a shared business technology agenda to win, serve, and retain customers.

In our view, CMOs have a new weapon in their marketing arsenal to achieve this goal: the digital command center. Digital command centers are intelligent nerve centers that let brands quickly track digital moments and respond appropriately to manage their reputation, retarget display ads, drive new sales opportunities, and provide customer support. Beyond listening to social chatter on digital channels such as online forums and analyzing brand relevance, product discussions, and customer viewpoints, it also pulls in unstructured information that is rapidly shared with other departments in the company. For an increasing number of CMOs, such a center delivers actionable insights to improve market research, better support customers, and drive sales.

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How To Be A Great Client: Tales From Both Sides Of The Fence

Allegra Burnette

I’ve had the chance over the years to see both sides of the client/design agency relationship. I began my career at Ralph Appelbaum Associates, a world-renowned museum exhibition planning and design firm, working with clients like the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Museum of African American History in Detroit. What I loved about those projects was getting to work with multiple teams on a variety of projects with different subject matters. When you’ve spent the afternoon listening to famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson wax poetic about the planets as you prepare exhibits for the Rose Center for Earth and Space, you realize life can be pretty good.

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Six Takeaways From Global eCommerce Events In New York

Zia Daniell Wigder

Last week there were a couple of great events related to global eCommerce here in New York — Borderfree had its annual Global eCommerce Forum and Adyen held a local merchant event. A few themes emerged:

Omnichannel is now a must-have. At both events, omnichannel retail was front and center. Adyen underscored the opportunities inherent in integrating online and offline payments. At the Borderfree event, Stephen Sadove, the former chairman and CEO of Saks, kicked off the event with 10 disruptive trends. He declared that #1 and #10 were most important: #1 was the shift to omnichannel.  Sadove cited the substantial gross margin implications of being able to move inventory between channels; he also emphasized it’s “not a sustainable point of view ” to believe that getting one view of the customer is just too expensive.

The demands of retail leaders have shifted. Other issues that came up regularly with attendees at both events were the changing needs of retail and the challenge of hiring qualified talent (“talent requirements” was the #10 big trend on Sadove’s list above). Today’s business leaders must be able to deal with a laundry list of new topics — e.g.  mobile payments, cross-border eCommerce — many of which wouldn’t have registered on their agenda just a decade ago.

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How To Beat The Top Five Excuses For Not Improving Your Government Agency's Customer Experience

Rick Parrish

Naysayers love to complain that real customer experience (CX) improvement is only for the private sector because government is subject to unique and insurmountable pressures. Don’t believe these cynics. Many major corporations must overcome the same hurdles, and some federal agencies are finding ways to break out, too. Use this list of comebacks to subdue government CX skeptics the next time they start raving about:

  • Entrenched organizations. Even the most stagnant agency can change. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is taking a wrecking ball to its ossified structure with a major CX pivot that includes an overhauled organization; revised policies and procedures; and personnel changes that include the appointment of a chief customer officer. Private sector companies in perennially paralyzed industries like airlines are also breaking free. Delta Air Lines has soared in our CX Index thanks to major innovations to its policies, procedures, technical capabilities, and training.
  • Complex regulations. Healthcare companies groan under the weight of federal and state regulations, yet some companies in this industry find new ways to provide outstanding CX while working within the system. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan shot up more than 20 points in our CX Index last year by simplifying technical terminology and making interactions clearer for customers. Despite being hamstrung by outmoded regulations and congressional meddling, the US Postal Service just tied for first among the 18 federal agencies on our CX Index.
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