(Really) Taking On Customer Experience

Victor Milligan

Customer experience (CX) has rapidly moved from an ideal to an operational mandate. As Forrester’s CMO, customer experience is one of my four strategic priorities. It’s also tied to my compensation. How’s that for focusing the mind?

I’m not alone. Creating a superior and differentiated customer experience is a core strategy for most companies — a pillar of who you want to be. It’s likely in your mission statement, annual report, 10-K, strategy deck, or company culture declaration. In a Forrester survey, “improving the customer experience” was tied with “growing revenue” as the No. 1 business priority over the coming year. Great CX is the big ambition in the sky.

For many, it remains an ambition. 

The feedback I get from executives is consistent with my own thinking and Forrester’s body of research in this area. CX can’t be an attitude, tagline, or one-time corporate initiative. It has to be a different way of doing business, a new kind of operating model.

That means addressing the complex areas like people, process, and culture. 

At Forrester, I keep returning to the basics to help us take simple but important steps forward. Here are five observations from the frontlines:

  1. Change your perspective. We have a sense of how customers are supposed to traverse different touchpoints and a sense of the experiences we want them to have. But that’s not the starting point. CX is about the customers, on their terms and in their voice. Sounds basic, but that fundamental reorientation requires a surprising level of tenacity and discipline.
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Introducing The Forrester Readiness Index For Digital Marketing

Jitender Miglani
The dictionary defines “readiness” as the state of being fully prepared for something. It is easy to compare how well prepared companies are for digital marketing by looking at their digital marketing staff strength as a percentage of their total marketing staff and at their digital marketing spend as a percentage of their total marketing spend. More-prepared marketers prioritize digital in their marketing planning. More-prepared marketers run best-in-class digital marketing programs and communicate with the customers across multiple devices. More-prepared marketers measure how well their digital programs accomplish their business goals and how channels work together to accomplish a desired outcome. 
In the past, Forrester has developed tools and frameworks that help firms assess their digital marketing maturity. Forrester has now launched a new research framework: the Forrester Readiness Index (FRI) for digital marketing. This framework is a quantitative assessment that provides insights into the digital marketing environment and available opportunity for 55 countries across the globe through 23 quantitative variables.
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B2B Marketers: Borrow From B2C Loyalty Tactics To Deepen Business Relationships

Emily Collins

After almost every loyalty-related speech I give, I get some variation of the following question: "How does this apply to B2B?" Sure, customer loyalty programs are most frequently associated with consumer-facing rewards schemes, but earning customer loyalty is very important for B2B companies too. After all, loyal and satisfied B2B customers provide testimonials, case studies, and referrals that result in a fuller and more qualified pipeline of new business. It can be easy for B2B marketers to dismiss consumer loyalty models as inapplicable to their complex business relationships, but there's a lot more to consumer loyalty than points and discounts.

In my latest report, "B2B Loyalty, The B2C Way," I explore how B2B companies can use consumer loyalty principles to deepen their business relationships. Looking past rewards, they specifically stand to benefit from three core tenets of loyalty embraced by successful B2C loyalty marketers:

  1. A deep understanding of customer needs and motivations. B2B companies are not immune to the age of the customer, and in order to increase their customer obsession, they must continue to grow their knowledge about the customer. Building this knowledge-base from sources like satisfaction surveys, digital interactions, and customer success management systems is especially important given the complexity of B2B purchase decisions. 
  2. Consistent customer interactions across organizational silos. Business customers interact with many parts of the organization including marketing, sales, service, and support. Reaching across the aisle to teams that interface most frequently with customers, resellers, and end users leads to more productive customer outcomes.
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A Formal Social Marketing Structure Is Key To Success In Asia Pacific

Clement Teo

Discussing with Asia Pacific marketers, I often hear that they struggle to find and recruit the right social marketing skills, including data analysts. While staffing is important insofar as tactics go, having a proper team structure to execute on these tactics is, in my view, even more crucial.

In fact, they can mitigate some of these HR challenges with a properly structured social team. My report on building a usable social team structure addresses how organizational models will evolve as social marketing matures. These models include the a) Hub, b) Hub and spoke and c) distributed hub and spoke. 

The Hub, for example, is meant to help firms that are starting out on social marketing. This could be a firm that is beginning to get more serious about how social is used strategically to drive business outcomes, or one that operates in highly regulated industries like banking and finance. The centralized hub model puts all of the responsibility (and money) for social marketing in the hands of one small team. This model provides training wheels for marketers for social marketing — especially in learning how to coordinate or test social marketing campaigns in the early phases of social maturity. A centralized hub acts as an incubator for social marketing experimentation and allows other teams to focus on their own objectives until the social program can be implemented at scale with minimal risk. Execution can be in-house, but some marketers partner with an external agency for additional dedicated resources.

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45% Of Offline Retail Sales Will Be Web-Influenced By 2020

Michael O'Grady

Although 91% of retail sales in EU7 were offline in 2014, online presence is critical to retailer success, as nongrocery web-influenced sales were three times larger than online sales. EU7 includes the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and Sweden. A soon-to-be-published report, Forrester Research Web-Influenced Retail Sales Forecast, 2015 To 2020 (EU-7), shows why the majority of nongrocery offline retail sales will be influenced by the Internet as early as 2017; why this influence is dependent on country, category, and consumer age and gender; and why a consistent consumer experience across all multichannel touchpoints is critical for retailer success.

How consumers are influenced by the Web depends on many factors:

  • Online behaviors. Price and consumer ratings are the most important online factors influencing retail sales. Online behaviors are more embedded than ever into the consumer purchase journey, as online buyers and online spend per buyer continue to grow in Western Europe. Offline populations continue to decrease, although at different rates across Europe: almost a third of Italians and a fifth of Spaniards are still not online.
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The Data Digest: Enchanting Consumers With Video Across Devices

Anjali Lai

Hollywood director Francis Ford Coppola once said: “The very earliest people who made films were magicians.” In some ways, things haven’t changed -- although the media producers of today seem to pull the classic reappearing act as their key trick: When content finishes on one screen, it reappears on another . . . and then another.

Video is available across myriad personal devices, and consumers’ viewing habits are fragmented across technologies. Just as channels for video consumption are becoming more profuse, the types of content that viewers seek are also increasingly diverse. In the past month alone, American audiences said hello to streaming-exclusive dramas and goodbye to long-running TV shows. This week, consumers viewed an array of films like those premiering at SXSW, and tuned into the March Madness sports frenzy.

Consumers have choices about what to watch, on which device, and when. According to Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data, US online adults still prefer to watch longer-length video on TVs but frequently turn to smaller devices for shorter content:

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The Customer Insights Research Team Is Hiring!

Srividya Sridharan

Gone are the days when we have to “sell” the idea of using customer and marketing data to drive better business decisions. The sheer scale and diversity of customer data will provide rich new sources of insight and allow firms to effectively engage with customers using enterprise marketing technologies. In fact, customer analytics solutions, one of the emerging business solutions in our latest Top Emerging Technologies To Watch research, will have a significant impact in the age of the customer. And in order to activate insights from these customer analytics solutions, you need a robust set of marketing technologies to serve as systems of customer engagement.

If you are excited about challenging thinking and leading change for our clients in customer analytics and enterprise marketing technologies, we’d love to hear from you. We have two open Customer Insights analyst positions to focus on these critical coverage areas – customer analytics and enterprise marketing technologies. You will write research for, present to, and advise Customer Insights Professionals to help guide their customer data, analytics, and marketing technology decisions.

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Hello World. It's Audience-Centric design.

Ryan Skinner

Today I heard an agency describe the content strategy that it was working for a client. At the end of the description (which revolved around how the client saw itself, and what it wanted to talk about), I said: “That sounds like an ad pitch.” Awkward silence.

Right now, in meeting rooms around the world, bad ideas for content strategies are being hatched. And it’s no fault of the idea-hatchers.

Sitting in a meeting room.
Thinking about the company’s (or client’s) management or board.
Needing to sell an idea in to sceptical constituents.
Knowing, no matter what they hatch, it’ll get enough paid air cover to make it look a winner.

So they lay an almighty egg of a content strategy. An egg that, within the hothouse confines of the group that hatched it, meets only reaffirmation. But the content strategy doesn’t serve customers. Not at all. And it doesn’t serve the real strategic goals of the company behind it.

How do you get around this natural tendency of organizations to lay eggs?

You need a very strong counterweight to the natural tendency towards basic self-interestedness from the parties involved (client approval for the agency, peer approval for the marketer, and self-serving messages for the internal stakeholders).

Audience-centric design is the response. Taking its cues from the user-centric design discipline, audience-centric design relies on rich and direct audience observation – both their attitudes and behaviors – in order to inspire value in the eyes of the audience.

What types of observation are we talking about?

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The Time For A US Coalition Loyalty Attempt Is Now

Emily Collins

Coalition loyalty programs that let consumers earn and redeem a single currency across multiple partners have historically failed to gain traction in the US. Why? The fragmented footprint of potential partners, proliferation of single-brand loyalty programs, and reluctance of brands to share customer data hampered hopeful coalition operators' efforts.

We analyzed the market opportunity for these types of programs in 2013, predicting that: "Given the time it takes to amass partners and consumer scale, we expect it to be at least another two years before a large-scale coalition is established in the US market." Well, it looks like we were spot on. Today, American Express announced that they will be launching a US coalition program later this Spring. The program, called Plenti, will debut with seven partners including Macy's, AT&T, Exxon Mobil, and Rite Aid.

American Express is well positioned for success as it has experience managing both proprietary and coalition loyalty through its own Membership Rewards program and the Payback coalition program (in Germany, Poland, and India). And while it's not clear yet how member data will be managed, the program launch creates an opportunity for participating partners to embrace adaptive intelligence and deepen their customer understanding and business growth. But, announcing and actually executing coalition loyalty at scale are two separate things. The true test for Plenti begins in May when consumers begin to enroll and use the program.

Moving On Towards The B2B Marketing Role - Check Out This New Report

Peter O'Neill

In last week’s post, I mentioned the upcoming transition of the Sales Enablement role to a much more strategic B2B Marketing role. In April, overnight, you will have immediate access to over a hundred reports about B2B marketing written by experienced Forrester analysts Laura Ramos, Lori Wizdo, and Kim Celestre.

This is in addition to the reports you know already from our existing sales enablement research. That body of research will continue as planned within the new role; there is no let-off in our momentum on sales enablement coverage. But this research will now be read by a much broader audience across B2B marketing. That is important for sales enablement automation vendors and service providers, because most of them actually sell their wares to the marketing department. So the reports we write about them will reach a larger audience.

Plus, as I discussed at the Sales Enablement Forum, you Sales Enablement Professionals are wearing at least six hats of responsibility, for what we call the six business goals of sales enablement, and you must continually educate and influence colleagues to get things done. Most of these colleagues are also in marketing, so we are helping your cause directly.

As an introduction to the new analysts in our group over the next few weeks, I will refer you to an interesting report that they have published and discuss how relevant it is to our sales enablement ambitions.

The first introduction is easy.

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