It's easy to get swept up in the power of the digital age, where smart mobile devices and cloud services open the door for new and exciting ways to engage customers. We think a lot about how these technologies will create enticing customer experiences (CX), making these digital touchpoints the face of the brand. I admit, as a technology fan, I'm enamored with this idea. But I'm also someone who thinks a lot about technology and the workforce, so I was equally animated by a conversation I recently had with the head of a CX consultancy. He warned that businesses risk over rotating on technology, viewing their people as receding in importance in delivering satisfactory customer experiences. He went on to say that businesses that make this make do so at their own peril. I agree.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending EmTech MIT hosted by MIT Technology Review. It was inspiring, exciting and motivating to see the innovators of today give us a glimpse of the emerging technologies that will influence the future. The event was especially fascinating for me because as a consumer insights analyst at Forrester Research, I closely follow consumer technology adoption. At the event, Astro Teller, Captain of Moonshots at Google[x], discussed how the technology giant approaches tackling society’s greatest challenges: The initiative needs to address an enormous problem that can be named, the solution needs to be radical, and is based on science and technology. Working on emerging technologies like the self-driving car, Google Glass, and smart contact lenses, Google[x] is at the forefront of bringing futuristic technologies to market.
Blogged in collaboration with Samantha Ngo, Senior Research Associate, serving Customer Insights professionals.
After taking the customer loyalty assessment, you know whether you’re a laggard, learner, leader, or legend:
Great, but you’re probably thinking "Where do we go from here?" You need a game plan that clearly identifies where and how improvements should be made. To do so, take the gaps in your current approach and prioritize your tasks based on whether each one is a:
Need to have. These are non-negotiable tasks that will make or break your graduation to the next maturity level.
Want to have. These are important, but not critical tasks for taking your maturity to the next level.
Nice to have. These tasks come in handy for differentiating your loyalty approach, but have little bearing on your maturity level.
Advertising as we’ve always known it, online or off, worked a bit like this:
Here, advertising content had no life independent of its placement. Print ads, TV ads and radio ads lived only on the servers of the ad companies who created them, and then the media who carried them, for however long they carried them.
Now, a new kind of advertising has emerged:
Here it’s a question of identifying content for promotion that’s already in the wild, on a blog, in a discussion forum, uploaded to YouTube, and then paying to drive more eyeballs to it, because it supports your brand, or it converts interested communities into customers.
It’s particularly attractive for two very good reasons:
It’s already published, and has often already shown potential to create results for the business (in the form of awareness, leads or even sales), and
You can often dial up the eyeballs that go to it, or dial them down, as you see fit, based on performance.
I really enjoyed sharing insights about loyalty in the Age of the Customer at Forrester's Customer Experience Forum East back in June. I got some great questions from the audience about how to start planning and advancing their loyalty strategy. Next up, I'll be continuing the conversations at Forrester's Customer Experience Forum West in Anaheim, CA, November 6-7. And, a few weeks later I'll also be at our EMEA Customer Experience Forum, November 17-18 in London. Here's a sneak peek of the content I'll be sharing at my track session. I hope to see you there!
While analyzing the survey results for my recent report on the state of customer experience management in India, I noticed a fundamental flaw in the way that Indian organizations approach reporting structures for their customer experience (CX) teams. About a fifth of the organizations we surveyed rely on their customer service department to lead the charge for CX initiatives.
This is detrimental to the growth of CX, as there are basic differences between the scope of work and the skill sets of the two teams. Specifically, customer service teams have limited capabilities and exposure across:
People. While both CX and customer service teams work toward enhancing the experience across the customer life cycle, the customer service team has a somewhat myopic view of customer engagement, focusing predominantly on handling client complaints and resolving queries.
Processes. Forrester defines customer experience as how customers perceive their interactions with a company. The contribution of customer service teams to this process is limited to supporting customer tasks in a few phases of the journey.
Tools. Customer service professionals are responsible for the experience delivered via multiple touchpoints, such as IVR systems, contact centers, and social media. However, other equally important customer interfaces, such as mobile applications, digital kiosks, and eCommerce platforms, fall outside their purview.
Chinese people are hypersocial in their lifestyle and daily work, and Forrester forecasts that 681 million of them will be using social media by 2019. Online Chinese are actively engaging with brands and companies on social media: 29 brands or companies on Sina Weibo and 32 brands or companies on WeChat on average. Chinese businesses have realized the importance of social for customer life-cycle management. While they’ve started using social to increase brand awareness — such as broadcasting on Sina Weibo — they can’t recognize potential customers in this one-way communication. They use public WeChat accounts to shorten response times to client service requests — but they can’t predict these requests in advance. To address these challenges, businesses in China are starting to use enterprise-class analytics tools for Chinese social platforms.
I recently had the pleasure of facilitating three customer journey mapping workshops for clients. For me, the most rewarding part of these workshops is when, all of a sudden, you see the light bulb go on for the participants. It can be the realization that their customer has to jump through an inordinate number of hoops to submit a simple service request or have to wait five to 10 days for repair . . . or when the workshop participants realize they have no idea what their customers are doing or thinking, but maybe they should.
Just as the light-bulb moment can be different for each person, the insights they deem most valuable can vary and include:
Ideas for designing future-state experiences. A group of participants from a retailer created a future-state journey map illustrating how customers could sign up for a credit card and rewards program while shopping in-store. They identified scenarios for how store associates could approach customers with credit card offers without seeming intrusive as well as appropriate opportunities to follow up with customers by email or mobile app if they chose not to enroll right away. These types of insights can then inform the design of the new credit card and rewards experience.
A sense of empathy for the customer. We ask workshop participants within the same organization to wear name tags because not only do we not know them but also most of the time they don’t know each other. In one workshop, the organization was siloed, as most are, and each participant owned her own small functional part of the customer journey. But no one had insight into or ownership of the entire process. When brought together to analyze the health of the end-to-end journey, participants walked away with a shared understanding that what they were each doing individually wasn’t working for the customer as a whole.
I recently interviewed a number of companies about their approach to customer loyalty. In each conversation I asked a variation of the question "How do you define and measure customer loyalty?" And what struck me is that while many companies define loyalty using various terms like share of wallet, length of relationship, engagement, and customer value, they often measure it using only transactional metrics. Now, there are various reasons for this. Some don't have access they to the data they need to gage emotional loyalty. Others don't have the analytics capabilities or resources they need to pull the pieces together. But loyalty if multi-faceted, complex, and has emotional and rational aspects that aren't mutually exclusive, and certainly can't be reduced to a single metric.
So what should you do? First, heed my rallying cry: It's time to push past purchase as a proxy for loyalty. Second, Forrester can help. Loyalty may be difficult to measure, but it's not impossible. My latest research report provides a framework that buckets loyalty measurement into four, cooperative levels:
Programmatic measurement assesses loyalty program health. These metrics explain how the loyalty program grows in size, scope, and activity level over time. Sample metrics include enrollment rates, offer response rates, and program usage.
Purchase measurement quantifies the customer relationship. These metrics explain how the loyalty strategy improves customer profitability. Sample metrics include average order value, frequency, and basket assortment.
As I wrote in my previous blog post and report on "The Data-Driven Design Revolution," the digitization of customer experiences — both online and in physical environments — has greatly expanded the depth and breadth of customer data available. This abundance of data has profoundly changed how experience design teams use and manage customer data. Its impact, however, doesn’t end there. This newfound abundance of customer data also fuels new business pressures and experiences. Chief among them being:
Organizational velocity is the new competitive differentiator, driving experiences to operate in real time, all the time. The speed with which companies can convert customer data into insights and insight into action is now a critical differentiator. Companies can no longer rely on linear approaches to data analysis — spending six months to gather data on a problem, many more months to analyze it, and even longer to act on it. Doing so will cause companies to bleed customers away to more nimble competitors. As Marc Andreessen recently tweeted, “Cycle time compression may be the most underestimated force in determining winners and losers in tech.”