Q&A with Mike Boush, VP, eBusiness, Discover Financial Services

Peter Wannemacher

Earlier this week I caught up with Discover’s Mike Boush to talk about his keynote at the upcoming eBusiness Forum, where he’ll explore innovations in eBusiness at Discover. Here’s a snippet of our conversation, and a sneak peak of Mike’s session at the event:

Q: What digital initiative have you undertaken in the last 12 months that you're most excited about?

A: I love what we're doing with partnerships online. It's creating a whole lot of value for customers and, frankly, getting us out of the "must be built at Discover" mentality. It started with an integration with PayPal in order to deliver peer-to-peer payment services. The program leverages PayPal’s huge delivery platform, and customers love it. Then we introduced an integration with Amazon that lets customers pay for their Amazon.com purchases with the cash they earned through our Cashback Bonus rewards program. This really highlights the difference between competitors' "points" programs and our straightforward cash, and the transparency shows just how great our program is. And recently, Google announced our integration of Discover card enrollment into the Google Wallet from our website, which is convenient for customers and helps position us in the mobile payments space. These integrations are just a sample of what we've done, but they become powerful illustration of what we can do when we team up and innovate with other great companies. 

Q: What gets in the way of delivering the right experience to your customers?

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European Brands are Embracing the Cross-Touchpoint Reality

Martin Gill

I had the pleasure of presenting an evolution of our Agile Commerce research last week at the Internet Retailing conference in London. It was an interesting event on a number of fronts, but my key take-away from the event was a very positive one.

eBusiness executives in Europe have definitely woken up to the Agile Commerce message.

We can’t claim all the credit at Forrester, but I definitely got the feeling from listening to my fellow panelists on the Customer track present their stories that they were in the same place as we are now, at least in terms of strategic intent, if not yet in execution:

  • Simon Smith, Head of Multichannel Experience at O2 Telefonica described how he is bringing a service design ethos to delivering both consumer and employee experiences. Telefonica aims to design service experiences that are Individual, Relevant, Thoughtful, Reassuring and Amazing (SUPER, anyone?), and what was the most interesting piece about their story was that these experiences are designed from an outside in, customer first perspective before any of the individual touchpoints are designed. By basing these experiences on common personas and a wealth of analytical data, Telefonica then overlay touchpoints as appropriate, enabling them to step out of the discussion about “should we or shouldn’t we develop this or that functionality on this or that platform?” and into the more relevant discussion about “what touchpoints and experiences most make sense for our customers?”
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Softbank Acquisition Of Sprint Will Shake Up Customer Experience In The Wireless Industry

Harley Manning

Softbank, which owns Japan's third-largest mobile carrier, just announced that it will buy a 70% stake in Sprint Nextel. What exactly will that mean for wireless customers?

First, a little background . . .

In our new book, Outside In, my co-author Kerry Bodine and I describe the customer experience turnaround that CEO Dan Hesse engineered at Sprint. By relentlessly identifying the top problems that customers called to complain about and then systematically eliminating those problems, he took the company from having the lowest customer satisfaction rating of any major US carrier to having the highest customer satisfaction rating. Fewer unhappy customers meant fewer calls to Sprint's contact centers. As a result, Hesse recently reported that Sprint saves $1.7 billion a year from averted call center contacts.

Hesse’s current challenges have centered around shareholder displeasure with the cost of licensing the iPhone and the cost of building out Sprint’s high-speed network capabilities. As I said in a previous blog post, that lack of shareholder support seems strange to me. Isn't it obvious that it's critical to offer customers the smartphone they want and a fast network with a lot of capacity to support that phone — especially in a world where they have so many choices? It should be.

In contrast to current Sprint investors, Softbank President Masayoshi Son understands that smartphones and the networks that fuel them are essential: Not only is Softbank already building a high-speed network to help it compete in the smartphone war in Japan, but also Son said that the iPhone 5 was a trigger for the Sprint deal.

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Why Some Companies Succeed — For Now — Despite Their Poor Customer Experience

Harley Manning

Last week I got a question via email from one of Forrester’s clients, who asked:

“How do you explain the success of companies that consistently provide a poor experience but perform well financially?”

I wish more people asked this question because it shows that they’re thinking about customer experience in the right context: as a path to profits. Here’s my answer: Creating a superior customer experience is the most important thing that companies need to do. But it will never be the only important thing they need to do.

My co-author and I describe the relationship between customer experience and other factors that lead to business success in Chapter 13 of our new book, Outside In:

“Is customer experience a silver bullet that will kill off all your company's problems and make your stock price soar? No. If there is such a bullet, we haven't seen it. The fact is, regardless of your customer experience, you can still get clobbered by a big, strategic threat like a new market entrant (Netflix if you're Blockbuster) or a substitute product (digital photography if you're Polaroid). That's especially true if the new market entrant or the provider of the substitute product offers an amazing customer experience (Amazon.com if you're Borders or Barnes & Noble).”

When you have a virtual monopoly, you can get away with providing a poor customer experience right up until you can’t.

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The Data Digest: Profiling Creators

Reineke Reitsma

Creators sit at the top of Forrester’s Social Technographics® ladder: They are the consumers who write blogs and articles, upload self-created video and music, post photos, and maintain their own web pages. More than any other group, Creators are shaping the face of consumer content online. We recently published a report called “Exploring The Social Technographics® Ladder: Creators.” It shows that Creators are great advocates for the brands they like, and that they have, on average, many more friends and followers to share their opinions with than any other group.

However, what was really intriguing is how much they value feedback from companies and brands. Even more importantly, more Creators expect companies to respond to positive posts about products/services than to negative ones.

This is contrary to popular belief. In fact, there’s plenty of advice out there on what you should do in a crisis or how to respond to someone who’s posted a complaint. There’s not much advice on how to handle positive feedback, but in fact, it’s one of the best ways to trigger (and motivate) your brand advocates.

ExactTarget Acquires iGoDigital And Pardot

Rob Brosnan

ExactTarget today announced plans to acquire two companies: Pardot and iGoDigital. The acquisitions signal that ExactTarget, only recently public, intends to use its cash reserves to grow aggressively against the competition in revenue, market segments, and features. So what does it mean?

Are the two acquisitions related?

No, the dual acquisitions are a quirk of timing, allowing ExactTarget to drive the marketing technology conversation in advance of Connections, its user conference in Indianapolis next week. I’ll separate my comments to better address each.

Still, I’ll risk a theme for these two acquisitions: Marketing automation without predictive analytics is blind, but analytics without automation is empty.


Why did ExactTarget make the acquisitions now?

iGoDigital Pardot
The acquisition is unlikely to make a big impact in the short term. Recommendations are a small part of the marketing software mix for retailers.  ExactTarget can cross-sell online recommendations into its significant B2C base, but in the end, ExactTarget is acquiring the firm for a longer-term move.
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Social Media Has Transformed Customer Expectations At Every Step Of The Customer Journey

Jonathan Browne

After moving to a new apartment in September, I needed to get a new TV. My first instinct was to gather information from a few sources. I browsed online retailers to get an idea of prices, and I looked at manufacturers’ marketing content to understand the latest technologies like 3D TV. After all of that, I turned to consumer reviews and discussions to get a feeling for whether I would actually find those features valuable. (For example, some customer reviews helped me confirm that I didn’t want 3D TV.)

Where did I find those reviews? Everywhere — there are star ratings and comments on product pages at retail sites (like John Lewis and Amazon.com), technology media sites (like CNET) and manufacturer websites. Interestingly — I got the feeling that the manufacturers still aren’t entirely comfortable with the transparency that social media brings. They’d like to put a spin on the message, even if they can’t entirely control it — For example, Panasonic’s UK site has a page that promotes “5 Star Reviews Of The Month” (see the screenshot below). I can't think of a situation when I'd want a firm to guide me only to the most positive reviews of its products. Can you?

 

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The iPad Mini Buzz And The Smartphone/Tablet Divide

Thomas Husson

 

Since the beginning of the year (with a peak in July, thanks to this Bloomberg article), there have been rumors that Apple would launch an iPad mini with a 7.85-inch display. Speculation is now high that the launch could be announced October 17 — a week prior to the big Microsoft buzz about Windows 8 and in due time for the holiday rush and the seasonal year-end sales — in an attempt to lock new tablet buyers in to the iOS ecosystem. The biggest iPad mini conundrum is likely to be pricing — making sure that the new device remains competitive in the face of the iPad 2 and iPad 3 and the newly launched iPod Touch but also with Google's $199 Nexus 7 and the new $199 Kindle Fire HD. Don’t count on me to comment on rumors and share my personal take on the features the device could have, etc. Some of my colleagues are better placed than I am to make a call and will do so in due time.

Let’s step back from the hype for one moment.

It took two years for Apple to sell 67 million iPads versus 24 years to sell 67 million Macs. It took the company two years to sell one million iPods. Arguably, the iPod, coupled with the iTunes ecosystem, disrupted the music industry. Needless to say, new connected devices — mostly smartphones and tablets — will be even more disruptive. Forrester forecasts an installed base of 760 million tablets globally by 2016, and my colleague Frank Gillett has explained why we believe that tablets will run the personal computing landscape at work and at home.

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Innovative Methodology: Companies Are Seeing The Value In MROCs

Roxana Strohmenger

My colleague Lindsey Colella and I attended the Vision Critical Summit in New York this week and were inspired by how market insights professionals are truly embracing the value of market research online communities (MROCs). Among the emerging and innovative methodologies, this is the one that we are seeing gaining significant traction: The Greenbook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) Report shows that this is the top emerging methodology used by client-side researchers — with 36% currently leveraging it.

What did we learn at the event? In addition to reinforcing MROC best-practice tips like closing the loop with panelists and incentivizing in a relevant way, which Lindsey recently wrote about in her report “Best Practices For Managing A Market Research Online Community,” the following best practices and examples caught our attention:

·         Internal marketing is critical. Market insights professionals need to “sell” the value of MROCs to various business units across the organization. One electronics retailer did that by hosting monthly meetings in which the MI team presented all the research collected in the MROC to the cross-function business leaders.  

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Q&A with Bert DuMars, VP, Digital Marketing & Ecommerce, Newell Rubbermaid

Carrie Johnson

I had the chance to catch up with Bert DuMars, VP of Digital Marketing & eCommerce at Newell Rubbermaid, in advance of his keynote later this month at the eBusiness Forum. I spoke with Bert about the impact of digital channels on the overall shopping experience, and how Newell Rubbermaid is charting a course for profitable eCommerce growth. Here are some of his thoughts.

Q: What digital initiative have you undertaken in the past 12 months that you're most excited about?

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