For a track session at Forrester's Marketing Forum at the end of April, I dived into the topic of customer satisfaction. For market researchers looking to set up a customer satisfaction (CSAT) study, much guidance is available. However, it also became clear to me why, despite all this advice, many customer satisfaction projects fail.
Most of the information I found -- or the conversations I had, for that matter -- were around the ‘science’ part of CSAT studies: the methodology and set-up. There are many discussions online about questions like which scale to use, which questions to ask (or not), whether a company should focus on relational versus transactional measurement, or if it's better to conduct a customized CSAT project or use an established method like Net Promoter.
However, in my conversations with market researchers, I found that the success of CSAT projects isn't based as much on science -- although a sound and repeatable set-up doesn't hurt -- as much as it is on ‘art.’ The art lies in understanding the company’s business issues; translating these into a well-structured questionnaire; finding the drivers for success; and later, when the results are in, presenting the results in an actionable format.
Any customer satisfaction project that focuses on numbers misses out on the 'art' element of CSAT. Of course, using a standardized methodology helps the company benchmark itself against its competitors. But what does it mean when 80% of your clients are satisfied? The organization will look at this number and want to drive it up, without any understanding of what the impact on the bottom line will be when the percentage of satisfied customers increases from 80% to 82%.
Here’s some background: For several years Forrester has published annual reports that ranked public-facing bank sites from the perspective of an eBusiness professional. This year our customer experience research team collaborated with our eBusiness research team to create our own grading reports tailored to the unique needs of customer experience professionals. The result is a stereoscopic view of 12 banks (six in each country) from the different perspectives of two professional roles that work closely together in real life.
The reports from the customer experience team dive deep into user experience issues. They grade how well customers can accomplish their goals on bank sites. The reports from the eBusiness team summarize some of these findings and add in a competitive benchmark of bank content and functionality.
Last week the European Commission redrafted guidelines, many of which relate to regulations around distance selling. The revised guidelines had been adopted 10 years ago and the new ones are to be in place beginning in May for the coming 10 years.
There continue to be many restrictions allowed but the overall set of guidelines pull back on some types of restrictions suppliers can put in distribution contracts. For example, suppliers can no longer prohibit authorized sellers to sell on the Internet.
In addition, suppliers can no longer prevent online sellers from taking a sale from across borders including within a distribution system such as exclusive distribution or selective distribution. For example, a retailer in the UK can accept and ship an order to a buyer in France even if they are not authorized to sell physically in that market. The retailer cannot proactively market to that customer, but they may accept an order if it comes to them passively.
But there's another big story behind this Flash fiasco that has successfully remained off the radar of most. It's the answer to this question: How do the media companies -- you know, those people who use Flash to put their premium content online everywhere from Wired.com to hulu.com -- feel about having their primary delivery tool cut off at the knees?
Answer: Media companies hope to complain all the way to the bank.
First, a bit of disclosure. I'm the one who went on record explaining that the lack of Flash is one of the reasons I am not buying an iPad. So I'm clearly not a fan of the anti-Flash rhetoric for selfish reasons: I want my Flash content wherever I am. But I've spent the last few weeks discussing the Apple-Adobe problem with major magazine publishers, newspaper publishers, and TV networks. Their responses are at first obvious, and then surprisingly shrewd.
A recent report from my colleague Alexander Hesse on 'The State Of Mobile Banking In Europe: 2010' shows that about one in eight European Net users with a mobile phone use mobile banking today — with SMS account alerts being the most common type. Many European banks like Rabobank and Lloyds TSB let customers set up time- and event-triggered text alerts, but currently, only 10% of European online mobile phone users actually use them.
We expect that 39% of European mobile phone users will use the mobile Internet by 2014. Why? Smartphones becoming the norm, more widely available, all-you-can-eat data plans, and more compelling content will drive uptake. Today's iPhone and BlackBerry users are, for example, already nearly three times as likely to use mobile banking as other mobile phone users.
Frank Gertsenberger, VP of Product Marketing for Audience Science wrapped up day one with an excellent update on privacy concerns and expected changes due to FTC and congressional work on behavioral advertising policy.
The concern is that even though data is being collected anonymously, when enough anonymous data points are collected, is an individual still anonymous?
Four entities are running concurrently to tackle this challenge:
The FTC began investigating data practices about two years ago and determined that the risk with behavioral marketing is that consumers are not aware of what data is being collected; current privacy policies are insufficient at explaining how consumer data is employed with behavioral marketing.
Congress – A subcommittee was convened last year to quantify the value of behavioral marketing in order to determine its value in the online economy. Through studies supported by the NAI (the network advertising initiative), Congress now understands this and is outlining a policy outlining what the baseline protections should be for consumers.
NAI– A membership organization which now represents more than 80% of all online ad spend, and created studies focused on answering Congress' need to value behavioral marketing. Also helps audit member sites to aid compliance efforts.
The Associations – This is a collection of online advertising associations like the DMA (direct marketing association), the IAB (interactive advertising bureau) and the ANA (association of national advertisers). This group is taking a pass at developing requirements for providing enhanced notice to consumers.
The second session of AudienceScience Summit this afternoon is a panel moderated by Quentin George, Chief Digital Officer of Mediabrands. Panelists include Dave Dickman, SVP of Digital Media Sales from Warner Bros. Television and Barbara Healy, VP of Online and Mobile Fulfillment at Tribune.
The theme of the panel was intended to address how these publishers manage their audience assets. But really the primary message I took away was that publishers are focusing on solution sells -- finding ways to sell more high margin offerings -- whatever these happen to be. I was expecting to hear more specifics about how they are working with publisher optimization solutions, or data management offerings. But it sounded instead that it was any and all efforts to create unique ad solutions, rather than just impressions.
Two points heard, one good, one bad:
1) Warner Bros talked about an alternative way to think about creative, empowering creatives to build original programming that airs on the Web and allows users to provide input into the plot and production that the program takes. This approach garnered premium sponsorship (from J&J) and helped creative resources feel a part of (and not irrelevant to) emerging media.
Coming to you live from the AudienceScience Targeting Summit in Las Vegas, a three day event for publishers and advertising talking about changes in display media and the value of targeting for both sides of the online advertising ecosystem: buyers and sellers. My presentation was part of the publisher day (Day one is for publishers, day two for both publishers and advertisers, and day three for advertisers alone) and spoke to the findings of a custom study I worked on for Audience Science earlier this year. The conclusions I shared today are:
Online advertising has significant growth in store
Audience and behavioral targeting will grow further advertiser investment in display media
And yet, advertisers still second guess display advertising value because it is so hard to take full advantage of (I walked through a laundry list of challenges online advertisers face like media proliferation, measurement challenges, $$ shifting downstream from branding to more direct sales channels, operations inefficiencies and limited staff)
So publishers must be ready to help create more automated, more dynamic, more data driven advertiser solutions to help advertisers overcome the challenges with using display today.
Last week, I was in LA, hosting a session on online panel quality at Forrester’s Marketing Forum. I discussed the past, present, and future of online panel quality with Steve Schwartz from Microsoft, Maria Cristina Gomez from Procter & Gamble, and Frank Findley from ARS Group.
Online panel quality is still a major issue in the industry. The whole discussion started in 2006 with a speech by Kim Dedeker -- at that time, the VP of global consumer and market knowledge at Procter & Gamble. In it, she publicly expressed her concerns about online panel quality, how it affected their research results, and, as a result, the credibility of market research. In her speech, she stressed that, in her opinion, the industry – both research suppliers and clients – needed to focus on how to improve the overall quality of research. Her appeal to the industry was very successful. Many other research buyers weighed in with their stories, and the research providers took up the challenge. Since then, many initiatives have started, such as the ARF’s Foundation of Quality and ESOMAR’s 26 questions, as well as more technology-driven approaches like Peanut Labs’ Optimus and MarketTools’ TrueSample.
The Hulu-will-charge-you-money rumor mill is churning once again and the blogosphere has lit up with preemptively angered Hulu viewers vowing that they will never darken Hulu’s digital door again. Some call it greed, others point to nefarious pressure from ailing broadcast and cable operations, while some decry the end of a freewheeling era. They are all wrong.
Hulu charging for content is a good thing. In fact, it’s a necessary next step to get us where we need to be. Let me explain.
This comes at an awkward time, to say the least. The site’s CEO, Jason Kilar, admitted just weeks ago that the free site is profitable, taking in more than $100 million last year and on a run-rate to more than double that this year. Blunting that momentum would be foolish. But letting it run absent the burden of helping to pay for the shows it profits from would also be irresponsible, and not in a Father-knows-best “charging for content builds character” kind of irresponsible, but in a more “not taking advantage of the opportunity to take Hulu to the next level in benefit of the consumer” kind of irresponsible.