Magnificent Mile - Yes. Multichannel Mile…Still A Work in Progress

Andy Hoar

Recently two colleagues of mine, Patti Freeman Evans and Martin Gill, put their respective cities’ shopping meccas to the multichannel test.  The question: To what extent were bricks and mortar retailers on Fifth Ave in New York and Oxford Street in London using their physical stores to advertise and promote their digital channels?  

Eager not to be left out...and curious to see how my city of Chicago would fare…I paid a visit to our world famous “Magnificent Mile” to see if/how bricks and mortar retailers promoted a connection to their own digital channels.

As I walked both sides of Michigan Ave (home to retailers such as Northface, Macys and Gap…as well as high-end retailers such as Tiffanys, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel)…I thought to myself, would Chicago be different from London and New York?  Would America’s heartland have a better feel for a large and growing number of shoppers today who may physically “be” in stores but whose shopping “attention” may reside elsewhere?

Some findings:

  • Traditional Brands Disappointed.  Count among this grouphigh-end/luxury brands and more established brands (e.g. Louis Vuitton, Macys).  Which is not to say that all youth-oriented brands excelled (e.g. Zara, Disney)…in fact, a surprising number of them failed to show their multichannel chops (e.g. no URLS in store, no discernable mobile presence). For example, The Disney Store was heavily promoting the “Cars 2” movie on monitors in its store, but I could not find any links anywhere to their content-rich website.
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Call Center Satisfaction Ties To Consumer Loyalty And Overall Brand Impressions

Kerry Bodine

In a previous post, I said that bad call center experiences spoil millions of daily opportunities to drive business value. Now you can figure out just how much business you're missing out on. 

Forrester recently asked US consumers to rate their satisfaction with call center agents from companies across 11 industries. As a part of that survey, we also asked consumers about their loyalty to those same companies. Then we analyzed the correlation between the quality of call center customer experiences and customer loyalty.

What we found was pretty compelling.

As customer satisfaction with the call center goes up, the willingness of a consumer to make another purchase and to recommend that brand to others increases. In addition, likelihood to switch to another provider goes down.

These correlations were particularly high for PC manufacturers, parcel shippers, Internet service providers, TV service providers, and credit card issuers.

We also asked consumers about the usefulness, ease of use, and enjoyability of their interactions with these same companies. We used that data to analyze the correlation between the quality of call center conversations and consumers’ overall perception of the customer experience delivered by the brand.

Across every industry we looked at, call center satisfaction highly correlates with consumers’ perceptions of how well the company met their needs and how easy and enjoyable it was to work with the company.

Customer experience professionals, call center execs, and marketers need to start discussing these connections and developing a plan to improve the call center customer experience. Your brand and your customers’ loyalty might just depend on it.

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Are We Headed Toward A Cashless Society?

Carlton Doty

These are exciting—and challenging—times for anyone who is responsible for developing, managing, and innovating consumer products.  Why?  Because digital technology is disrupting everything—the way we communicate with each other; the way we access, store, and share information; the way we purchase and interact with the products and services we use every day; and yes—even the way in which we actually pay for those products and services.  Whether you like it or not, digital disruption is happening everywhere, it’s happening fast, and it’s accelerating.

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An Open Letter To Anyone Planning To Buy Into Groupon’s IPO

Sucharita  Mulpuru

Dear Potential Investor,

I have mixed feelings about the Groupon IPO. On one hand, we’ve just come out of a horrible economic period where there was a real fear of wealth destruction. But now just a few months after the near-collapse of our financial institutions, we actually have an extraordinary opportunity for wealth creation — how great is that! On the other hand, there is no rational math that could possibly get anyone to the valuation Groupon thinks it deserves. Yes, Groupon grew from $30 million in sales to more than $700 million between 2009 and 2010, but most of that growth was artificial. (The lack of profitability is another issue, but let's not even go there.) Here’s why:

  • $265 million came from its international markets, which were acquisitions.
  • It spent a quarter-billion dollars (!) on marketing. To put that into context, the average large eCommerce retailer spends $11 million on interactive marketing. Back of the envelope calculations from the SEC filing get us to $31 spent to acquire a customer, who then probably spends a little more than that on Groupon. That means it spent about $250 million to make another $300 million.
  • It launched in more than 100 new markets in 2010. I’ll conjecture that in any market in America, you can sell $500,000 of half-off manicures and teeth whitening procedures in a year just by hanging a shingle. That gets us to another $50 million in revenue. 
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Do We Still Need SMS?

Julie Ask

Apple's announcement today on the "Notification Center" triggered my comments. Other than the fact that I no longer need to tether all of my devices to a computer (finally!), I think this was my favorite announcement. My top "negative" re notifications to date has been the inability to save or file them. Do I want to save a FB update? No, not really. But I do want to save and file coupons, promotions, news alerts, etc. Will be interesting to watch the effectiveness of notifications now that they DON'T interrupt . . . in some ways, that's the point. Less intrusiveness may attract more uses of those afraid of annoying their customers. Re 100B notifications to date . . . wow.

"Do we need SMS?" I think the answer is "absolutely, yes." I've had more than one of my colleagues suggest to me that SMS no longer holds any relevance for commercial businesses hoping to reach their customer base. I disagree. Here's why:

  • For the forseeable future, a very small percentage of any company's customers will have downloaded its application. A few companies like eBay or Amazon.com may be the exception. Relying only on push-based notifications does not offer enough reach. Apple's announcement today, however, makes push-based notifications a lot more interesting.
  • Push-based notifications on smartphones are more of a US-centric phenom. If you are targeting customers in Asia, Africa, India, Latin America, etc., you need SMS -- SMS is the primary application/transport medium on most phones in many countries.
  • Tracking calls-to-action. When does a message drive an action? Clicking through to a URL? Using a coupon? Visiting a store? Calls-to-action can be digital, physical, or calls.
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Social Co-Creation Is A Valuable Opportunity For Companies With A Latin American Presence

Roxana Strohmenger

It’s been almost a year since I wrote Latin American Social Technographics® Revealed, which demonstrated this group of consumers’ voracious love of social media. In that report I highlighted how this high level of social engagement is not exclusive to just entertaining themselves or connecting with family and friends. In fact, it also extends to interacting with companies, with activities such as reading their blogs, following them on Twitter, or even watching a video they produced.

Given the ease with which companies can connect with online Latin Americans via social media, I’ve now published a new report entitled Take Advantage: Latin American Consumers Are Willing Co-Creators that examines whether companies can extend this interactive and social connection with consumers into the realm of co-creation in the social online world. My colleague Doug Williams, who focuses on co-creation processes for the consumer product strategy professional, defines “social co-creation” as the process of using social technologies as a vehicle to execute co-creation engagements.

To examine the viability of social co-creation in Latin America, we assessed the factors that we feel are crucial for a successful social co-creation engagement to occur. They are:

  • A high level of engagement with social media — especially at the Conversationalist and Critic levels.
  • A high degree of interaction with companies using social media tools.
  • An inherent willingness to co-create with companies.
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Get Customer Obsessed Or Perish: Welcome To The Age Of The Customer

Carrie Johnson

Today Forrester released a piece of must-read research for every organization that markets and sells to customers. In Josh Bernoff's report "Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer," he illustrates how customer-led disruption forces firms to throw away old models of competitive differentiation. Competitive barriers like manufacturing strength, distribution power, and information mastery won't save anyone. The report concludes that the only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge of and engagement with customers. In the age of the customer, firms must become customer obsessed.

eBusiness and channel strategy professionals are no strangers to customer-led disruption. Many firms' web strategies are just now finally catching up to the sneak attack of Amazon.com and E-Trade, if they survived at all. What happened in the early '90s will continue to happen again and again. In a companion document that I also released today, I argue that to survive, eBusiness and channel strategy professionals must embrace the principles of agile commerce -- optimizing people, processes, and technology to serve customers across all touchpoints. Specifically, eBusiness and channel strategy professionals must shift from:

  • Customer acquisition to retention.
  • Siloed channels to touchpoints.
  • Reactive to actionable use of customer data.

I encourage you and everyone in your organzation to read this critical document about surviving and thriving in the age of the customer.

Marketers Should Cut Ad Budgets To Thrive In The Age Of The Customer

Shar VanBoskirk

At least once a week I get a client inquiry wondering what is "the next big thing in interactive marketing," seeking to identify what will out-tweet Twitter or out Goog Google.  Well, in his new report, Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer, my colleague Josh Bernoff articulates what is next for all businesses: A disruptive shift, where the power of customers means that firms must focus on the customer now more than any other strategic imperative.  In fact, the only source of competitive advantage is the one that can survive technology-fueled disruption — an obsession with understanding, delighting, connecting with, and serving customers. In this age, companies that thrive, like Best Buy, IBM, and Amazon, are those that tilt their budgets toward customer knowledge and relationships.

See Josh's post Welcome To The Age Of The Customer: Invest Accordingly for detail on how the Age of the Customer disrupts established competitive strategy.

The zinger in this report for interactive marketers is to: Prioritize word of mouth over mouthing off. Cut your ad budget by at least 10%, and spend the money on connections that have a multiplier effect like social, devices, and content. Ads are far more effective when customers are primed to believe them.

This means that interactive marketing of the future is really focused on interactivity -- not just on pushing out marketing messages through digital channels.  Three ways to get started creating more interactive marketing relationships:

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Revisiting Customer Lifetime Value

Srividya Sridharan

Relationship marketers love customer lifetime value (CLV) as a concept because it puts the customer at the core of the marketing investment decision and sneaks a peek into the future worth of the customer. But in reality, arriving at customer lifetime value is often a herculean task and the assortment of CLV approaches available doesn’t make the process any easier.

My latest research, titled “Navigating The Customer Lifetime Value Conundrum,” highlights key considerations for firms who plan to embark on the CLV journey. As a continuation of this research stream, I asked our Customer Intelligence community members what their experience with CLV was and a few interesting points emerged:

  • Inclusion of intangible value. At what point is it important to account for the intangible, non-transactional value that customers are generating especially through all the emerging channel interactions such as referrals, recommendations, likes, user-generated content, etc.? 
  • Blurry definitions of "best" customers. Traditionally, resources are channeled toward your best customers with positive net present value (NPV). But often there is conflicting choice between investing in high-value, low-usage customers and low-value, high-usage customers. As a result, defining your "best" or "worst" customer/segment is not as obvious as a positive or negative NPV.
  • Diversity of CLV users. CLV is not just the domain of marketing or customer-focused teams, but it touches other stakeholders in the organizations. How do non-marketing stakeholders such as finance teams in your organization view this metric? Is CLV as important to non-marketing stakeholders as it is to marketing?
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What The Age Of The Customer Means For Market Insights Professionals

Reineke Reitsma

Today my colleague Josh Bernoff  is publishing a report that shows how we’re about to enter a new era, called 'The Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer'. This report is a call to action for you and your company about how to remain competitive in a changed world where customers are highly empowered.

Whereas in the age of manufacturing, the age of distribution, and most recently the age of information, companies that had the best skills were winning, in this age of the customer, only companies that fully understand their customers’ needs will win over their hearts (and with that, wallet share). And it’s not enough to be customer-centric — in fact, companies should be customer-obsessed. This is not just jargon, it has a real meaning:

A customer obsessed company focuses its strategy, its energy, and its budget on processes that enhance knowledge of an engagement with customers, and prioritizes these over maintaining traditional competitive barriers.

This report is very relevant for market insights professionals because they are the ones that will need to support their organization to understand the (hidden) drivers behind the needs of the customers — and how to delight them. Josh Bernoff shares more of his insights in this blog post, and clients can access the report here.