“It's no longer sufficient to say that you are simply ‘customer-centric" or "customer-focused.’ The only successful strategy in the age of the customer is to become customer-obsessed — to focus your strategic decisions first and foremost on how your customers expect you to engage them.
Through our ongoing conversations with executive buyers, professionals in sales enablement, and through survey responses from hundreds of global executive buyers, Forrester’s Sales Enablement practice has discovered a massive gap between buyers’ expectations of salespeople and what they’re actually experiencing when they meet with reps. In fact, less than 40% of executive buyers say that meetings with salespeople meet their expectations (see figure 1). Further, only one in three IT executives said that sales meetings "usually" live up to expectations, and just over two of five business executives said that sales meetings hit that mark (see Norbert Kriebel’s report: Executive Buyer Expectations — The Bar Is Low).
Considering that perhaps 25% or less of the typical sales force is even capable of gaining access to executive buyers, consider the cost when these meetings miss buyer expectations and result in no further opportunity.
Just as London buses seem to come down the road in a series, I’ve been very busy with several of Forrester’s German clients in the past weeks: running three separate “21st-Century Marketing System” client workshops (well, to be accurate, one was in Austria, but we spoke German). I also met with Germany’s two largest indigenous IT companies (though the meeting with SAP was in Istanbul). So this flurry of Germanic activity got me thinking about penning a new “Letter From Germany” blog.
Last month, I visit Jena, in Thüringen, the headquarters of Intershop. As I had worked very closely with this company back in my HP days in 1998 (Heh! I remember when they were NetConsult), even helping Intershop set up shop in the US as an ISV partner, it was a trip down memory lane. At the time, Intershop, led by its young CEO Stefan Schambach, was the darling of the German business press; the closest that Germany had to the AOL, Amazon, Google, or Yahoo founders. The eBusiness bubble-burst set Intershop back somewhat, but it is still around with a strong, loyal set of eBusiness customers around the world. My colleagues Peter Sheldon and Andy Hoar published their Forrester Wave on B2B Commerce Suites last week and we were all pleased to see Intershop earn a position as a leader in their analysis. And another German vendor, hybris (an SAP company),was also up there with them. Congratulations to them both.
Within the wave report, the colleagues also pointed out that customers who migrate to an online purchase environment actually end up spending more money per transaction and more money overall post-migration (see below). And they are less expensive to support once they migrate online.
Simultaneously: using two devices at the same time to “multitask for efficiency.” Despite overwhelming evidence that humans cannot really split their attention among multiple tasks, 82% of global consumers believe that multiscreening makes them more efficient, and they act on that belief.
Brands deals with human needs and wants. Leo Burnett, the advertising executive, said: "The work of an advertising agency is warmly and immediately human. It deals with human needs, wants, dreams, and hopes." Smart brands know not to initially focus on what they have to sell but rather on how it meets consumers' needs. If you can address a strong consumer need, you will get those consumers to act. If you can get them to act, then you have opened an all-important channel of dialogue.
The fulfillment of consumer needs, however, is not always a linear hierarchic approach as proposed by Maslow and effectively debunked by Forrester analyst James McQuivey in his book Digital Disruption. Human needs take place simultaneously and are fuelled by a mix of short- and long-term motivations — some conscious and some unconscious. As a student, I would sometimes forgo food on a Friday so I could afford to go to a concert that night; or consider a Spanish couple postponing the short-term comfort of a much-needed upgrade to their central heating so they can put their child through the next year of college.
The pyramid diagram below shows how the foundation of this needs-based thinking is built from the ground up, from customer descriptions through to the technology and KPIs applied.
The standard pricing model for email marketing — the CPM — may soon change. Industry consolidation, commoditization, and growing data volumes threaten the standard. Buyers may soon confront models that range from a platform license (all-you-can-email) to total utilization (data + messaging) to seat-based models. In November, I will publish research into the rationale for model changes, evaluate different candidate models, and explore the repercussions of the change.
I need your help. Price changes will have dramatic and difficult to predict effects on customer experience, marketing practices, the vendor landscape, and even the structure of the marketing organization. For example, an all-you-can-email model may, paradoxically, reduce email volumes in the long run, if it removes barriers to adoption of cross-channel programs.
This potential shift from channel-specific to cross-channel is one of the more interesting consequences of a model change. I’d like your reactions include:
What is the best pricing model given the challenges you face (performance, cross-channel, real-time, mobility, etc.)?
Who in your organization might be affected by the change?
How do you anticipate the purchase process (RFP, selection, negotiation, contract review) might change as a result of a model change?
If you faced no pricing limits on email, how would your strategy and operations change?
If vendors moved to a platform model — e.g., including other modules such as web recommendations, push notifications, or behavioral targeting with email — how would your strategy and operations change?
Last week, Forrester published an updated version of our report on The Age of the Customer (the author, David Cooperstein, blogs about it here). The report discusses the fact that competitive differentiation has been based upon the power of manufacturing, distribution and subsequently information. We’ve now entered an era in which “the only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge of and engagement with customers.”
The report gives great examples of brands that have used both digital and traditional channels to become customer obsessed and the benefits they’ve realized as a result. Yet for a large number of brands, the journey is just beginning. This early stage is often reflected in brands’ eCommerce offerings around the globe, many of which still reflect a product-centric rather than a customer-centric approach. Today we find that:
The survey is now closed. Many thanks to all of the agencies and service designers who submitted. We'll be in touch soon.
The survey deadline has been extended to November 7 at midnight Eastern! Please see my comment in the thread below for more details.
“Who can help us design great customer experiences?” I increasingly hear this question from our Forrester clients — and depending on what kind of work the client is after, my answer is often, “a service design agency.” I recently wrote two blog posts discussing the importance of service design and its relationship to customer experience. In December, I’ll be publishing a report that will help prospective clients find potential service design partners.
This report will focus on agencies that design service-based interactions that span the following steps in the customer journey: buy, access, use, and get support. Agencies that primarily design the employee experience will also be considered for inclusion in the report. If that sounds like your agency — and you’ve got one employee or several hundred — we’d love to include you. Just fill out this survey by November 1.
When I was 4 or 5 years old, I remember going to the bank with my Mom. She’d say, “hey, let’s go. I need to make a quick trip to the bank to deposit a check.” It was a big deal that the bank had a drive thru. We’d pull up in the car. My mom would manually roll down the window. A teller would speak to us. My mom would reach out and take the plastic tube. She’d drop in a few checks, put the tube back into the machine and it would be sucked back into the building. A couple minutes later, the pneumatics would work their magic, and money and a lollipop would appear. We’d drive back home. All in, maybe this trip took 20 minutes.
It took 20 minutes to deposit a check. My mom was thrilled – besides that she didn’t have to get out of her car, the bank was even open on Saturdays. I only missed one episode of Sesame Street. She was satisfied with this experience for probably two decades.
Fast forward 40 years. If it takes me more than 20 seconds to deposit a check, (And, yes, my 93 year old grandmother still sends me paper checks), I’m twitching … I’m staring at the app on my phone and wondering how the bank could get it so wrong. Just two years ago, I was fine with walking over to the bank and using the ATM.
Many have commented on the 14 product enhancements announced at last week’s Google Analytics Summit (GAS), but I attended to learn about their new Data Driven Attribution (DDA) tool. Why travel to Mountain View, CA “just” to focus on a new advanced attribution tool?
Digital pathways are rarely last click. Imagine a consumer who clicks on a banner ad sending them to your YouTube video. They watch the first 45 seconds and then enter your website through natural search. Do you really want to give zero credit to the YouTube ad? Assuming this pathway is common, should you increase or decrease your banner ad budget? Now with Google’s DDA (or competing tools) you can get an accurate answer for each touch point.
Pathways are rich with insights—in theory. Now imagine your team is struggling to optimize YouTube across a set of products. Also imagine you could measure how the influence of YouTube varied across journeys based on what was purchased, lifecycle stage and persona. Armed with those insights your team could develop a content creation schedule or define the role of YouTube in new product launches. Unfortunately Google’s DDA is limited in pathway comparisons, but I predict expansion of that functionality in the next 12 months. I applaud Google for its simple interface, but marketers need more options than the limited demographics and attitudes available today.
Although an event that takes place in the offline world may be finite, it lives on in the online world. When a single incident becomes part of the Web, which is buzzing with real-time updates, critiques, and responses, the event takes shape, is assigned value, and is made into something significant. As a recent New York Times blogger put it, “the way we share, watch, read and otherwise consume content doesn’t happen on a linear timeline . . . the Web is always churning.” Sometimes, the aftermath of an event conveys more than the event itself.
Watching Apple announce the iPhone 5S and 5C last month was enlightening, but more revealing was tracking the fluctuating online consumer sentiment and response days later. Using Forrester’s NetBase social listening data, we measured the proliferating online discussion related to the Apple iPhone and recognized an immediate trend of negative commentary. Our data shows that while the amount of online conversation grew across a host of public websites, the positive sentiment regarding Apple iPhones plummeted, as the audience's brand perception became more negative.