A Great Customer Experience Depends On Customer Understanding

Harley Manning

My colleague Andrew McInnes recently wrote a post about the tunnel vision that results when companies rely solely on analytics for understanding customers. By neglecting qualitative research methods like ethnography and related tools like personas and customer journey maps, firms run the risk of thinking they know what customers want and need but in reality not having a clue. And that’s the root cause of some of the worst customer experience problems — issues that can drag down a business.

Take the case of Kevin Peters, Office Depot’s president, North America. Kevin recently spoke at our Customer Experience Forum where he described the biggest puzzle that confronted him when he got his job. Even as sales declined, store mystery-shopping scores compiled by a third-party research firm were going through the roof. How could this be? How could customers be having a great in-store experience but not actually buying?  

As it turned out, the mystery shoppers had been asking the wrong questions. They were accurately reporting that the floors and bathrooms of Office Depot stores were clean and that the shelves were stocked with merchandise. But as Peters put it: “Who cares?” When he personally visited 70 stores incognito, walked the aisles, and talked to customers, he discovered his real problems. For example, the combination of very large stores, weak signage, and employees who weren’t all that helpful made it hard to find products. That resulted in customers who walked in determined to buy and walked out without a purchase.

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The Data Digest: Profiling Digital Dads

Reineke Reitsma

One of the responsibilities of my role includes analyzing data in complex ways to help our clients understand how their target groups behave and if there are more relevant ways to segment them based on the results. However, sometimes it just makes sense to take a step back and look at some basic demographic profiles as a starting point for further analysis. We developed a new deliverable that we call Demographic Overview, and we kicked off the series with digital dads, followed by digital moms, and these will soon be complemented with digital natives and digital Seniors.

So why is it important for companies to look at dads? Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that s lightly more than one-third of US online men ages 18 to 50 are parents of a child younger than 18 living with them. Companies need to understand how the digital profile of dads differs from non-dads, as their behaviors influence the tech behaviors of their kids.

Some of our findings include that in general, dads are more likely to use the Internet as a resource, while non-dads are more active in entertainment-focused activities such as social networking. But dads know how to use social media to get their point across: 72% of dads who regularly engage in social activities have posted a review of a product or service on Twitter in the past 12 months, as compared with only 57% of non-dads.

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Excited To Bring Fresh Insights To Forrester

Gina Fleming

As the newest addition to the market insights team, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Gina Sverdlov, and I recently joined Forrester as a consumer insights analyst.

I am very excited to be here! My background is in economics, consulting, advertising, and using quantitative methods to provide actionable insights for my clients. In my role here at Forrester, I am going to focus on bringing our multiple data sources to life and turning numbers to actionable insights. I am enthusiastic about engaging with our clients to devise strategies that will be successful in today’s changing market dynamics.

For my first Forrester document, ”Connection: The Spark That Lights Up The European Digital Home,” I’ve been looking at device ownership in Europe and how recent trends compare with the IHS Global Insight Economic Outlook. What I found, for example, is that laptop penetration in Europe has increased from 20% in 2006 to 51% in 2010 amid hefty declines in European retail sales in 2008 and 2009 and personal disposable income in 2009 and 2010. As a follow-up, I’ve identified how the uptake of different emerging technologies like LCD, plasma, and 3D TV correlate with ownership of other devices and where there are opportunities for consumer electronics (CE) companies.

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Quick take on eCommerce in Brazil

Zia Daniell Wigder

I recently joined two of my analyst colleagues - Jennifer Belissent from Forrester's Vendor Strategy role and Jan Erik Aase in Sourcing & Vendor Management - in Brazil to speak with companies in our respective coverage areas. It was a fantastic trip: Well organized and incredibly useful in better understanding the business landscape.

On the eBusiness side, we had the opportunity to meet with a wide variety of companies in São Paulo and Rio, ranging from online retailers like Sacks and Comprafacil to eCommerce technology providers such as IBM and hybris to others like FedEx and Google. We also spoke at events organized by content optimization provider Arizona as well as Brazil’s eCommerce Committee.

We are working on a report that summarizes some of the key findings from those conversations – in the meantime, a handful of high-level takeaways from the trip:

Multichannel functionality has not arrived, but is coming. Multichannel came up in almost every conversation I had with companies in the online retail space in Brazil. While there are few options like in-store pickup or returns currently available on leading retailers’ eCommerce sites, the fact that many of the large traditional retailers are active in eCommerce means that multichannel functionality is poised to be a core area of investment going forward.

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With Or Without Bartz, Yahoo! Lacks Vision

Shar VanBoskirk

Carol Bartz was fired by phone from her post as CEO of Yahoo! in what must have been a Trump-worthy conversation with Roy Boystock, Yahoo!'s Chairman of the Board. Tim Morse, Yahoo!'s current CFO will act as interim CEO and part of a larger executive committee to manage Yahoo! operations until a replacement CEO is found.

I like Yahoo! And I was optimistic about Bartz taking the reins from Yahoo!'s founder Jerry Yang, as I thought it signaled an desire by Yahoo! to aggressively course correct its languishing strategy.  But now I'm just disappointed. Three more years have passed and Yahoo! is the same sinking ship it was when Bartz took the reins.  Here is my take on Yahoo!'s situation.  Yahoo!:

  1. Has terrific online advertising capabilities.  The online opportunity is *still* a huge and growing one; we project interactive marketing will near $77 billion by 2016.  Yahoo! has tremendous traffic and user engagement globally which populates its monster user database that it is a pro at mining on advertisers' behalfs.  It's ad labs scale testing and optimization.  Its reach and available inventory is massive.  And its ad marketplace is making real-time ad buying mainstream.
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On Marketing Technology, Castles, And Moats

Rob Brosnan

Over the weekend, an experience with Apple prompted me to think about marketing technology’s role in creating economic moats. According to Warren Buffet:

In days of old, a castle was protected by the moat that circled it. The wider the moat, the more easily a castle could be defended, as a wide moat made it very difficult for enemies to approach. A narrow moat did not offer much protection and allowed enemies easy access to the castle. To Buffett, the castle is the business and the moat is the competitive advantage the company has. He wants his managers to continually increase the size of the moats around their castles.

The moat around Bodlam Castle, a medieval castle built in 1385.

Apple’s retail presence is both a revenue engine and a cornerstone of its customer experience strategy. Retail pulls in average revenue of $10.8 million per store for Q3, 2011, generating the highest retail sales per square foot of all US retailers. Importantly, the stores guarantee the company a beachhead from which the company can educate consumers and resolve problems directly. For the quarter, 73.7 million people visited Apple stores.

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What's Happening With Forrester's Battle Card Standards?

Dean Davison

For those of you following Forrester’s project to create industry standards for battle cards, I want to give you a glimpse into the group’s progress and remind you about Forrester’s public webinar on September 7, where I’ll touch on battle card standards in more depth.

Each member of the standards group has success stories with their battle cards, but each member also struggles to change battle cards from being “random acts of sales support” to providing consistent, reliable support that helps sales reps win more deals. The purpose of our standards initiative is to do just that – identify and repeat how battle cards help sales reps win competitive deals.

Last week, the standards group reviewed the first draft of specifications for battle cards. Getting these definitions correct is important because all the downstream work we will do depends on these specifications. Our working document defines for battle cards the:

  • Purpose. Battle cards help sales reps anticipate and respond to competitive obstacles in the later stages of competitive deals.
  • Scope. Battle cards build on a point-counterpoint structure by identifying the competitor’s claims and equipping sales reps with responses.
  • Intersections. Battle cards must be consistent with competitive positions established in market overviews, pitch decks, and “marketectures,” RFP responses, and other sales tools.
  • Design point. Battle cards fuel customer conversations by addressing competitive issues through the lens of solving the customer’s problem, focusing topics that are core to the customers purchase decision.
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Is It Time You Accepted PayPal?

Benjamin Ensor

We've just published some new research on online shoppers' payment preferences in Europe. Payment habits across Europe remain diverse, with shoppers in different countries using different, and sometimes entirely different, payment methods to shop online.

One of the findings that struck me most during our research was the growing popularity of PayPal. That PayPal is used by many online shoppers across Europe is well known, and partly explained by the success of eBay. What struck me as new is how many big European online merchants now accept PayPal, among them leading fashion retailers and airlines. Perhaps I didn't spot that sooner because the British merchants have been much slower to adopt than those in Italy, Germany, France and Spain.

The growing acceptance of PayPal raises questions for two groups of eBusiness executives: 

  1. If you work at a retailer or other merchant, is it time you accepted PayPal payments online?
  2. If you work at a bank or card issuer, what does the growing use of PayPal mean for your relationships with your customers?
  3. For both groups, what payment methods are customers likely to want as they start buying from tablets and mobile phones?

What do you think?

If you are a Forrester client, you can read the full report here.

Time For Marketers To Move To Adaptive Planning?

Luca Paderni

Marketing planning has changed little in the past century. It's essentially a linear process built on the development of rigid 12-month plans built around brand and channel metrics. This approach is coming increasingly under strain as the combined effects of the growth of digital marketing platforms and a volatile economy demand marketing plans that deliver clear business outcomes and can adapt and improve to meet evolving market dynamics.

Over the past 12-18 months, we have come across several marketing organizations that have decided to do something about this situation and look for new ways to improve their approach to marketing planning by adopting some principles borrowed from a relatively new methodology originally conceived for software development efforts: agile development.

From the interviews that we did with marketers that are experimenting with this new approach, several of the key principles of "agile" development looked particularly relevant to innovating their approach to marketing planning:

  • A clear definition of business outcomes and associated business metrics
  • A dedicated cross-functional team
  • A deliberate test-and-learn approach
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Don’t Discount The Value Of Planning Tools To Your Online Testing Program

Joe Stanhope

In the past 18 months I've spent a lot of time working with Forrester clients on many facets of online testing (that’s a/b and multivariate testing for those of you scoring at home) spanning vendor selection, organizing and developing skills for testing, and building processes to support testing.

One of the general trends in online testing has been the democratization of access to marketing users. I think this is a positive development because successful online testing is a team sport that requires collaboration across multiple departments and skillsets. However, pulling testing outside of the exclusive domain of analysts puts a lot of pressure on vendors to supply tools that are suitable for non-technical audiences. This means providing easy-to-use, guided functionality, collaboration features, campaign preview facilities, extensive object reuse, and modern interface designs. And, to varying degrees, vendors are making progress in the area of user experience to meet these needs.

I have noticed that one of the features that often gets short shrift is test planning tools. In my experience, planning functionality has come forward as a crucial – and underrated – feature in situations where marketers or non-technical users will be involved in the development and deployment of online testing campaigns. To explore this idea further, I just published a new piece of research titled "How CI Professionals Can Plan For Site Optimization Success."

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