CORE Lessons From Best Buy, ING And IBM

Shar VanBoskirk

Last week I joined Matt Smith, VP of Marketing Services from Best Buy, Kim Verhaaf, director of Customer Intelligence at ING, and Matt Preschern, VP of Demand Programs for IBM, for a keynote panel: "Marketing Innovation in Action: How Being Adaptive Can Help You Innovate," at Unica's Marketing Innovation Summit.  To structure the panel, I introduced Forrester's CORE framework. If you're not yet familiar with CORE, its our mission that interactive marketers should adopt to help their firms adapt to the next digital decade. See a summary of the topic here or our research on The Future Of Interactive Marketing for a deep dive. 

Smith, Verhaaf and Preschern talked about the efforts they have underway to help their firms customize marketing experiences, optimize decisions and processes, respond to changing market conditions and empower employees and customers to advocate on your behalf. They raised some great points for interactive marketers to consider as they undertake CORE:

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The Root Of Most Customer Experience Problems

Kerry Bodine

I recently read a story about the butterflies in Zion National Park. Apparently, there aren’t as many of them as there used to be. And after decades of research, scientists have finally figured out why.

Zion National Park was developed in the early 1900s — and with that development came an influx of tourists. Scared off by human foot traffic, cougars retreated from certain areas of park. And with no natural predators, the deer population exploded. These cute (but ravenous) animals became unstoppable in their quest to devour everything in their path — including cottonwood tree saplings. And with fewer cottonwood trees reaching adolescence and maturity, the streambanks lost their primary source of erosion protection. Soil erosion made it difficult for wildflowers to bloom — and fewer wildflowers meant fewer butterflies.

Natural ecosystems, like the one in Zion National Park, comprise complex interdependent relationships that change over time.

A customer experience ecosystem is quite similar. It encompasses a complex set of relationships among a company’s employees, partners, and customers — and it’s these people’s decisions and actions that collectively determine the quality and characteristics of all customer interactions. 

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New “State Of Retailing Online” Doc Released On Shop.org

Sucharita  Mulpuru

Forrester recently published the “State Of Retailing Online 2011: Marketing, Social, and Mobile” report in conjunction with our friends at Shop.org. It is available on Shop.org (with a subscription) now.

Some highlights include:

  •  Understanding which marketing tactics are still leading to growth.
  • Examining the investment in social and the returns retailers are seeing.
  • Analyzing mobile and tablet adoption and strategy.

Look for the full report on Forrester.com in early June.

Summarizing The TDMR Event: Very Exciting Methodologies, Great Case Studies, But How Can We Take It From Here?

Roxana Strohmenger

Earlier this week, I was in “tech geek” heaven because I had the opportunity to participate in IIR’s Technology Driven Market Research Event (TDMR) in Chicago. The purpose of the conference was to showcase how technology has generated new ways for market insights professionals to connect with and understand consumers. Over the course of the two days, the bulk of the presentations focused on two methodologies: social media market research and mobile research, with a smattering of additional presentations on neuroscience and gamification.

TDMR was a great conference. It brought together a core group of 200 market insights professionals who realize that although traditional research methods have their place, as an industry, we need to start understanding and experimenting with new methodologies. In addition, it highlighted how the industry needs to stop dumping data on our clients and instead deliver key insights, make recommendations, and present actionable next steps. These points were especially evident in Merrill Dubrow's high-energy presentation, which addressed how we are seeing an increased number of outsiders questioning how we do things and why we are so slow to innovate. As he stated — with even Glenn Frey’s song blasting in the background — the “heat is on” for the market research industry to change.

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Why The “Web Versus Application” Debate Is Irrelevant

Thomas Husson

Rarely a mobile conference goes by without this debate popping up: Should you build a mobile website or an application? I don’t think it really matters; in fact, I’d say it is irrelevant. This is just one of many topics where technology leads marketing by the nose— as is often the case in the mobile industry! Product strategists often forget to ask themselves the right questions: which product and services, for which audiences, at what cost, and when?

Consumer product strategists designing product experiences for mobile phones and smartphones must decide on their development priorities across the mobile Web and apps. While some believe this is a fundamental “either/or” choice, current consumer behavior suggests that consumers are using both. More than half of European (and 60% of US) consumers who download apps at least monthly also access the Internet via their mobile phones at least daily. In short, heavy app users are also heavy mobile Web users. The more frequently consumers access the Internet via their mobile phones, the more likely they are to download apps at least monthly. More than 10 billion apps have been downloaded cumulatively since the launch of the Apple App Store — the majority of them via iPhones. But this doesn’t stop iPhone owners from being the most frequent mobile Internet users: 72% of European iPhone owners (and 63% of US iPhone owners) access the mobile Internet on a daily basis.

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The Data Digest: How Many US Households Have Multiple PCs?

Reineke Reitsma

Today’s Data Digest topic comes from a personal observation involving my family. Last weekend, my husband was working on our Mac, I was doing some online shopping on my work laptop, and one of our kids was playing games on my husband’s work laptop. And I suddenly wondered: “Is this how a typical household looks, with every household member having their own PC?” So I dived into our Technographics data and found that we are indeed not atypical for our generation: More than 80% of US households have some type of PC, and almost half have more than one. About 77% of Gen X has a desktop PC at home, and 61%, a laptop.

Whether people have one PC or two, and whether those PCs are desktops, laptops, or netbooks, PCs serve different functions for different generations in the household. While Gen Yers are more likely to use their computer for media activities like playing games or watching TV, Gen Xers and Boomers use theirs for more practical functions, such as word processing or managing personal or family finances.

Harvard Business Review Feature On Creating A Customer-Centered Organization

Kerry Bodine

Harvard Business Review (HBR) is currently running a month-long feature on its blog called Creating a Customer-Centered Organization.  We’re thrilled that HBR is focusing on this topic, as it indicates that customer experience is finally rising to the attention of top business executives.

The HBR editors asked Forrester to contribute a couple of pieces to this feature based on our recent research, and we happily obliged.

My post, Focus on Your Customer’s Customer, looks at how B2B companies can be successful by taking a B2B2C approach. Here’s an excerpt: “Often, the best way for B2B companies to satisfy the multitude of business customers is to focus on the needs of their customers’ customers. That’s exactly what Portuguese airport operator ANA Aeroportos de Portugal did in its quest to attract more major airlines and connecting routes. To understand the work, first you need to understand an airport’s business model: Its real customer isn’t travelers, but the airlines that rent the gates and terminals, much like a mall owner leases space to retailers.”

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Barnes & Noble Upgrades Nook Color Today, Sets A New Bar For eReaders

James McQuivey

That's right, I said eReaders. True, it looks like a tablet, runs like a tablet, and delivers a lot of the value that tablets deliver, but the Nook Color's 1.2 upgrade (which is actually a step up to Android 2.2; don't let the numbers confuse you too much) is really a foreshadowing of the future of eReaders, not the future of tablets.

First, the facts. With the new upgrade that will be gradually pushed out to all existing Nook Color devices for free over the next few weeks (or you can download now at www.nookcolor.com/update), the folks at B&N have added some very useful features: an integrated email client, Flash 10.1 support, a curated Android app store (see sidebar), and an improved user experience through a myriad of tweaks. These upgrades make the Nook Color look more and more like a tablet, with a very attractive $249 price point to boot.

Must the iPad now cower in fear? No, not really. Because even at this price point, the Nook Color remains a smaller, less powerful tablet than the iPad. And as we've seen, the range of competitors coming in after the iPad's territory are coming in at higher prices with more powerful features (for example, last week I dropped $529 for an LG G-Slate from T-Mobile with 3D video camera and 4G data plan). The tablet market is gradually moving into higher-power features, not lower-power experiences.

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How The “Most Improved” Companies Raised Their Customer Experience Game Last Year

Harley Manning

Every year in January, Forrester publishes its Customer Experience Index (CxPi), which reports how customers rate their interactions with major companies. We learn a lot from studying leaders in various industries — like USAA, which was the top credit card provider, top bank, and top insurance provider this year.

Last week, we published a follow-up report, which examined companies that raised their CxPi scores by at least five points year over year. Among others, these brands included Aetna (up six points), Citi’s credit card business (up 12 points), Charter Communications (up 20 points as an ISP and up seven points as a TV service provider), and Office Depot (up nine points). Our goal was to discover what, if anything, these firms did to earn their improvements.  

And as it turned out, their big gains came as a result of major efforts.

Our research uncovered customer experience initiatives that fell into two buckets. The first bucket was business process re-engineering. Efforts here included creating or enhancing voice of the customer programs, measuring customer experience consistently across the enterprise, and changing incentive programs to reward customer-centric behavior by employees.  

But perhaps the biggest impact came from upgrading the customer experience governance process at the enterprise level. For example, Aetna transformed its decentralized part-time customer experience task force into a full-time enterprise customer experience team. Cox Communications made an even more drastic change, consolidating any function with material customer interactions into one group led by a new senior vice president of customer operations.

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Good Proactive Marketing Can’t Fix Problems Like Amazon’s EC2 Outage . . .

Tim Harmon

. . . but bad reactive marketing can make the problem much worse.

[co-authored by Zachary Reiss-Davis]

As has been widely reported, in sources broad and narrow, Amazon.com’s cloud service EC2 went down for an extended period of time yesterday, bringing many of the hottest high-tech startups with it, ranging from the well known (Foursquare, Quora) to the esoteric (About.me, EveryTrail). For a partial list of smaller startups affected, see http://ec2disabled.com/

While this is clearly a blow to both Amazon.com and to the cloud hosting market in general, it also serves as an example of how technology companies must quickly respond publicly and engage with their customers when problems arise. Amazon.com let their customers control the narrative by not participating in any social media response to the problem; their only communication was through their online dashboard with vague platitudes. Instead, they allowed angry heads of product management and CEOs who are used to communicating with their customers on blogs and Twitter to unequivocally blame Amazon.com for the problem.

Many startups, including Quora, AnyTrail, eCairn, and MobyPicture, blame Amazon.com for their downtime.

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