It is January, 2015, and technology sales reps Reg, Xerxes, Francis, and Loretta have been to the movies to watch a rerun of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, probably one of the best film comedies of any time. At dinner afterward, they are reliving the scene where the commandos discuss “what did the Romans ever do for us” when one of their marketing colleagues stops by to say hello. After the marketing manager leaves, they continue their discussion.
Now there’s another point. Those people in marketing. What have they ever done for us?!
Well, they give us much better leads now.
Yes. Compared to before, they’re really qualified. I can certainly close my deals much quicker than I used to. To be honest, I didn’t even look at leads five years ago — they were a waste of my time.
Oh. Yeah, yeah. They did give us that. Uh, that's true. Yeah.
And those contact profiles.
Oh, yeah, the contact profiles. Remember what it used to be like? We’d have no idea who we were visiting. Had to ask all those questions about family and hobbies. Now, before I see someone, marketing give me a full profile — I see their Facebook, I know how LinkedIn they are. I even see their last 20 tweets.
Yeah. All right. I'll grant you: Leads and the contact profiles are two things that marketing has done for us.
In a recent post, my colleague Julie Ask and I examined what happened in the mobile space in 2010. In a new report, we are highlighting what we expect the key trends to be in 2011. While we believe that most of the trends identified last year will continue throughout the year ahead, here’s a snapshot of more specific trends that will shape the market in 2011.
• The mobile/social/local combo will explode in usage but generate little revenue.
• 2011 will be the year of the “dumb” smartphone user. Thanks to handset subsidies, smartphones will be available to the masses. Expect new smartphone users to be less engaged and active than the first cohorts of Android and iPhone early adopters. The good news is that thanks to customer education and the convenience that these devices offer, even “dumb” smartphone users will consume more mobile media than ever before and will have incremental usage of mobile data!
• The mobile fragmentation problem will continue in 2011. Prioritizing mobile developments will still be a challenge, and cross-platform development has not yet been achieved successfully.
Lately it’s become en vogue to talk about how to “surprise and delight” your customers. And why not? If companies are competing on experience, they need to find ways to impress and engage their customers. Figuring out how to do this is difficult but doable.
I recently had the pleasure of editing a report that Vidya Drego wrote that outlined three categories of customer research techniques: exploratory, evolutionary, and evaluative (read or download the report here). That process led me to think about my own research on Emotional Experience Design, which asserts that in order to engage their customers, companies have to craft interactions that address real goals, craft a cohesive personality, and deliver the right sensory experience. It’s this first principle of addressing real goals that I’ve looked into more deeply in a new report called, “Mastering Emotional Experience Design: Address Customers’ Real Goals.” Here are a few examples of companies that address real goals by extending value beyond the functional needs of a single interaction:
There are rare moments in technology when everything changes. When the entire framework defining how we interact with machines (and consequently, each other) shifts perceptibly. That happened when the TV was invented, it happened when the computer mouse was made available commercially. These kinds of changes forever alter our economics, our social life, and our individual experiences.
It's now about to happen again. Only this time, the shift that is coming is on such a large scale that not only will it change things dramatically, it will usher in a new era in human economics (and therefore, everything else).
We call the new era the Era of Experience. I'm working furiously to complete a report detailing all the specifics so you'll understand what this era entails and, importantly, what you can do to anticipate this era rather than follow it.
In fact, at our Customer Experience Forum in New York City during the last two days in June, I gave an exclusive preview to the 600+ attendees of what the Era of Experience was. In my speech, I gave a live demo of the PrimeSense technology that the people at Xbox built on to create the Kinect for Xbox 360 platform. This platform incorporates a full-body gesture control interface, voice control, and face recognition. It's as if all the science fiction we've been reading for decades was really just a how-to manual for Kinect. Oh, and this future-defining platform costs all of $149.99 at Amazon.
With the increasing uptake of technology and online shopping, consumers are getting more comfortable using technology in the store, as well. Data from our North American Technographics® Retail Online Survey shows that consumers like to be informed while they are shopping — they want to be able to access product information instantaneously, and they want to be more independent shoppers (without the help of sales personnel).
The items at the top of the list are those that allow consumers to find product information quickly — with majority of respondents reporting that they found in-store price scanning and computer kiosks valuable (84% and 66%, respectively). The fact that self-checkouts were the second most valuable in-store technology exemplifies how consumers want to be more independent while shopping: It shows that they are willing to take on that responsibility themselves in order to get in and out of the stores quickly.
As my colleagues in our team can attest, I get giddy when I talk about all the cool, emerging, and innovative methods that market research professionals can use — whether it be how biometric techniques helped the Campbell Soup Company understand how consumers respond to marketing and advertising in order to redesign its soup-can logo, or when Nokia used mobile research methods as a way to understand what emotional constructs influence a consumer’s “love and admiration” for a brand. All in all, it is great to see technology starting to make a significant impact on how we collect richer insights about consumers.
To help market research professionals understand what innovative research techniques are out there, I am launching a report series this year that will cover some of these innovative methods. To kick off the series, I have focused on prediction markets. Why? Because I see this extremely underutilized method as a valuable tool in the long, expensive, and arduous process of product and concept testing.
Companies are faced with the following daunting facts:
Over 25,000 new consumer products skus are introduced annually in North America with only half of these new product launches considered successful at launch.
For every seven product ideas that are created, typically only one succeeds in the market.
An estimated 46% of all resources allocated to product development and commercialization is spent on products that are cancelled or that fail to yield an adequate financial return.
Customer experience transformation efforts don’t happen overnight. It can take years to develop the right customer experience strategy and roll out improvements across interaction points. But the screaming pace of technology innovation over the past year has sparked major changes in customer behavior and expectations. The net result? 2011 will be a pivotal year for the customer experience field.
In our latest report, Ron Rogowski and I outline what these changes mean for customer experience professionals in the year ahead — and what they’ll need to do to keep up. The report includes predictions for the customer experience ecosystem, its impact on organizations, and the resulting implications for customer experience vendors. For example:
The complexity of the customer experience ecosystem will mushroom. 2011 will bring major changes in the number of devices consumers have at their disposal as well as the types of interactions they’ll expect on those devices. Forrester expects the number of connected TV sales to double in 2011 — and consumers say they’ll be gobbling up eReaders and tablet computers at the roughly same pace that they’ll purchase new laptops. This will force customer experience professionals to expand — and differentiate — their reach. Despite the growing popularity of mobile and tablet devices, the Web (no, it’s not dead) will continue to be a vital part of the customer experience ecosystem in 2011.
I hear you! My earlier post about battle cards, and my title in particular, confused some readers. By outlining some of the problems with battle cards that have surfaced in our current research on the topic without providing a clear context of where battle cards are headed, I did not play out my cards effectively. My bad; thanks for the feedback.
Here is what we are up to and why: We are in the process of interviewing competitive intelligence professionals and reviewing a raft of tech industry battle cards. Our research to date shows that the wide range of purposes -- and the inconsistency of content -- in battle cards are undermining the value to sales reps at many tech vendors. This lack of a clear design point and focus on content that will be useful to the buyer -- and thus usable by the rep -- is making many battle cards mushy -- but not all of them!
At companies where battle cards are successful, they are very successful.
Effective battle cards provide valuable talking points that lie at the intersection of buyer expectations and needs and the product advantages and competitive differentiators that satisfy those needs. Great battle cards don’t deluge sales reps with facts out of context, but rather equip reps with usable insights to engage customers about meeting their needs. That is what we are finding so far.
Our purpose in researching battle cards is to identify what makes them successful and to develop a design point and methodology for creating great ones. Our research indicates that as the tech industry moves toward outcome selling, sales battle cards will become one of the important vehicles that portfolio teams will use to enable their sales channels.
A recent Forrester report, Consumers Toe-Dip In Health-Related Social Media, by my colleague Liz Boehm got me scrolling through Forrester's latest Healthcare and Communications Technographics® Online Survey. There was a lot of interesting information in there, but the data point that caught my eye was the following: only 30% of US online adults have not been diagnosed with any disease or medical condition. The top 10 show a wide range of illnesses, from conditions like allergies to very severe diseases like depressions or diabetes.
Age is the main driver for this: About half of 18- to 24-year-olds have some kind of condition, while this is 94% for online Seniors (65 and older).
Why is this interesting for market researchers and marketing professionals? Because many of these people are using technology to manage and control their disease: they are using the Internet to research their condition, about half engage with their health insurer online, one in ten use text messages and email to get reminded to take their medication, and about 5% use health-related apps on their mobile to control their prescription, as well as monitor their behaviors. Understanding who these consumers are, and linking this with information collected via sites like America's Health Rankings, helps companies prioritize their service offerings.