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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?
As the sun sets on the summer season, I made one last getaway to a local island to enjoy the final moments of warm weather. While this small, remote island offers a chance to disconnect, it doesn't forsake the conveniences we are accustomed to in the process. Despite my lack of cash to hand, making a purchase from the small businesses at a rustic farmer’s market couldn’t have been easier — thanks to the vendors’ alternative mobile payment option.
Leveraging new devices for complex tasks that involve sensitive information or personal data demands consumer trust. The mobile payment adoption curve has been gradual for several reasons, one of which is the lack of trust, but recent news hints at the impressive connections that become possible once consumers put their trust in a service. PayPal recently announced several updates to its mobile phone application that make the app as relevant, complex, and functional as a mobile wallet. By winning the trust of a vast consumer base, PayPal is able to introduce more advanced features with the knowledge that consumers will seamlessly engage with the new offerings.
In fact, Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows that US online adults trust PayPal more than any other financial institution to act as a mobile wallet platform:
I read a disconcerting amount of content about content; you wouldn’t expect less from Forrester’s content marketing analyst. So I thought: Why not do something with it? I’m going to curate and occasionally publish a great little list of content links.
As introduction, here's my formula for curation.
Tight focus on audience: This is for marketing leaders who work with content in one way or other. If you don’t work in marketing or think about content, this will be of less value. My goal’s to give people who think about or work with content a list of recent articles on the topic, out of which at least a couple will be solid gold. (N.B.! I explicitly avoid the “16 golden tips for [this, that or the other]” types of linkbait posts. Duh.)
Process: I rock Feedly with a pile of RSS feeds from content sites, a private Twitter list of content influencers, a stack of email newsletters, and a host of other sources pretty much every day. I make a list of the best stuff as I browse. After a couple of weeks, I give each piece on the list one to four stars. Four stars and some three stars make the cut. Then I give each a succinct treatment and a comment to frame it. Serve cold!
Without further ado, here’s the best news, ideas, and opinions on content in the last fortnight! (P.S. If you want me to send the Content Marketing Fortnight to you next time, email me).
The month of September marks many new beginnings: the first day of school, the first month of fall, the start of football and hockey seasons, the beginning of grape harvest season (a significant event for a California wine lover like myself!), the new iPhone 5S . . . the list goes on. And when there are new beginnings, there are new learnings. This is why September is one of my favorite months -- for me, September symbolizes advancement and progress.
For marketing leaders, there is no better time than now to start learning about how to advance your social marketing initiatives. Most likely, you have been using social media tactics for some time now. And if you're like many marketers, you may find that you are stuck in a social marketing rut. Perhaps you find yourself unable to optimize your existing strategies or unable to get the results you expect from your social marketing programs. Or perhaps you have hit some major road blocks that are hindering your progress:
The good news: my colleagues and I have been working on some exciting new research this quarter that will help you overcome these challenges and advance your social marketing initiatives. This research will be published in our Social Marketing Playbook and will help you to do these three things:
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 (email@example.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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Who do you sell to? That’s a simple question that we’ve asked thousands of salespeople over the past few years. The answers are always interesting and typically focus on either a description of a business segment (e.g., “I sell to Financial Services companies of over $1 billion in revenue”) or a business function (e.g., “I sell into IT security departments”).
It is infrequent that salespeople tell us about selling to a network of decision-makers who are involved in making buying decisions for their organizations. Yet what we call “agreement networks” are the reality of a shift in how companies buy today. Agreement networks have forever changed the rules on salespeople, requiring new levels of understanding of how multiple buyers perceive value during their buying process.
Why is selling getting more complex?
Business problems involve an interconnected web of domains and processes
Selling into an agreement network involves multiple people
Stacey and I caught up last week, and she peppered me with some interesting questions about the business value of thought leadership, how to organize/staff around thought leadership, and what are the leadership/governance models that work. We thought it would be fun to write up our chat in the form of a (rather lengthy) Q&A, shared with you below.
Reading through it, I think it's important to approach thought leadership as an organization, and not just a marketing activity or program. True thought leadership happens when the market talks back, and you get to exchange valuable insight with other leading thinkers on the topic. Kinda like Stacey and I do here.
As I get deeper into the changes impacting television and online video, their convergence, and the possibility of entirely new forms of video entertainment content, I'm thinking about content in the following categories:
Long-form professional video -- i.e., produced originally to be broadcast on TV
Professional clips -- news, sports highlights, scenes from programs
Short-form professional -- i.e., Maker Studios, et al, producing videos shorter than 30 minutes, specifically for Internet distribution
Brand videos -- i.e., content marketing done in video form, such as Home Depot's do-it-yourself instructional videos
Then there is the medium by which they are distributed:
Linear, i.e., at broadcast time
DVR, where the consumer takes control
VOD through the cable box
Online streaming, from either the cable/satellite provider, the programmer, or a streaming service like Hulu Plus
And, of course, there are the devices on which the content can be viewed:
Earlier this summer, I attended an Experian marketing conference in Las Vegas, where I was rather surprised to see WWE champ John Cena on the agenda. Intrigued, I stuck around for his late afternoon session to see what he had to say. I’m glad I did. It turns out John Cena is a great brand builder. This Massachusetts-born native is a $100 million brand with 5.3 million Twitter followers and more than 15 million Facebook fans — just behind Kobe Bryant at 16 million. What’s his secret? Here are three brand-building lessons from John Cena:
Be customer-obsessed. Forrester believes that in the 21st century, the single source of competitive advantage is to be customer-obsessed. Cena gets this. He understands that his brand is only as strong as his relationship with his fans. And he takes that responsibility seriously. Cena claims you won’t find pictures of him at a Miami club, surrounded by a bevy of scantily clad women. His tweets depict his clean-cut image and are PG-appropriate.
Guide your journey with a clear North Star. Leading brands guide their brand, messaging, products, and organization by the light of their North Star — that core brand essence. Oreo’s North Star is to “celebrate childhood.” Cena guides his career with the mantra “hustle, loyalty, and respect.”
Build a trusted brand. Cena is trusted by his fans because he is authentic and passionate about who he is and what he does. As he commented, “you have to be authentic, even when you are falling down in a fake fight in a fake universe.”
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.