CX Q&A With Raul Leal, CEO, Virgin Hotel Group

John Dalton

On just about anyone’s shortlist of companies that deliver unique, high-quality experiences, you’ll be sure to find Virgin. And this year, the iconic brand opened its first hotel in the US — a 250-room property located in the Chicago Loop. How does Virgin Hotel live up to the high standards set by other Virgin businesses? At Forrester’s Forum for Customer Experience Professionals in New York, June 16th and 17th, Raul Leal, CEO, Virgin Hotel Group, will explain. In the meantime, he shared with us a few thoughts about CX, the hospitality industry, and what it’s like to work for a knight. Enjoy! And I look forward to seeing you in NYC . . .

Q: In your industry, switching costs are pretty low. Indeed, one of the things that impresses me about the first Virgin Hotel in Chicago is how reasonably priced the rooms are! Is that why CX is so important to Virgin?

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How Governments Can Improve Everyone’s Customer Experience

Rick Parrish

I spend a lot of time talking about the poor quality of federal customer experience (CX) and the effects it has on the public. I’ve already talked about how federal agencies averaged the lowest score in Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™). In fact, most of the worst performers in any industry were federal agencies and even the top agencies — the US Postal Service and National Park Service, which tied for the top spot — achieved scores far below private-sector leaders like USAA, Amazon, and JetBlue.

However, today I want to emphasize the national harm of bad private-sector CX. US consumers have hundreds of millions of frustrating interactions with companies every day, and that adds up to:

  • Degraded quality of life. About 50% of US households reported bad experiences, and 68% suffered customer rage in 2013, according to this study.
  • A weakened economy. Waiting for in-home services such as cable, TV, or appliance installation and repairs takes each US consumer out of the workforce for two days each year, costing $250 per person and the entire economy as much as $37.7 billion annually, according to another study.
  • Stymied business innovation. Poor CX also saps budgets that companies could otherwise use for research and development, capital investments, or other imperatives. And CX improvements translate into big bucks. Sprint saved $1.7 billion per year by avoiding problems that had prompted high traffic to its call centers.
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Today's Forecast: Partly Cloudy With A Chance Of Hybrid Deployment

Rusty Warner

I’m a big fan of the cloud – and not because I live in the United Kingdom, which actually gets a lot more sunshine than people think. Seriously, I like the cloud because of the opportunities it brings for enterprise marketing technology deployment. Note that I said “opportunities,” as in potential; although Forrester’s research shows SaaS is the leading factor driving system replacements and net new investments in business applications, there is still work to do where marketing technology is concerned.

But what about all the so-called “marketing clouds” on the market? Surely, they offer cloud-based solutions, right? Cloud-based, yes; exclusively in the cloud, no. Of the eight modules in the Adobe Marketing Cloud, Adobe Campaign and Adobe Experience Manager remain largely hosted or on-premise solutions today. Within the Oracle Marketing Cloud, loyalty and marketing resource management (MRM) modules offer on-premise deployment options. Last week, IBM announced the IBM Marketing Cloud – based on the Silverpop acquisition, with IBM Campaign (formerly Unica) retaining a “marketing software” description. Even the majority of Salesforce Marketing Cloud customers employ a hybrid model for customer data management.

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The Data Digest: Customer Service Has Gone Digital

Anjali Lai

In the past week, I have booked a flight using a travel voucher, questioned a charge on my credit card bill, and bought an electric toothbrush. What do these experiences have in common? In each case, I had a relatively complex question and I received a helpful answer – without talking to anyone in person or by phone. Instead, with a little online research, I was able to identify which blackout dates applied to my travel voucher, clear the charge on my credit card bill, and learn the best settings for my toothbrush.

Essentially, I sought answers immediately by turning to digital channels first. In this regard, I’m not the only one. For the first time in the history of our research, more US online adults report using company websites than speaking with agents by phone when resolving customer service needs. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows that 76% of consumers turn to FAQ pages, and usage across other digital channels is growing notably:

The fact that technology is disrupting the way in which customers seek information is not merely a trend – it’s at a tipping point. In the age of the customer, consumers expect accurate answers with greater speed and less friction than before; as companies offer them detailed online content with increasingly effective navigation strategies, consumers will embrace self-service digital channels at the expense of offline communication.

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We Have Metrics — Now What?

Daniel Brousseau

Convergences are cool when they happen, and for the past two months, I’ve been experiencing one around customer experience measurement. Today, I was on the phone with a massive government agency talking about the way it measures customer experience and why it’s not working. Next week, I’ll have another discussion with a major communications company about rebuilding its customer experience (CX) measurement system from brownfield and will also meet with a leader from a major software company on overhauling customer experience measurement globally. Two weeks ago, I met with the head of digital at a top-five bank about rethinking how to measure the digital customer experience.   

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From Shanghai To São Paulo: A Comparative Look At eCommerce In China And Brazil

Zia Daniell Wigder

Over the past few weeks, I spent several days in both China and Brazil speaking with eCommerce executives about the opportunities and challenges in their respective markets. Despite the vastly different market sizes – China’s retail eCommerce market reached $440B in 2014 while Brazil’s came in at $18B – these two countries are similar in that they both dwarf other markets in their regions in terms of online sales.

There are many different ways to look at eCommerce in China vs. Brazil; below are just a few areas in which these markets differ and where they show similarities:

Mobile evolution is at different stages. In China, Alibaba's Q1 2015 results showed mobile to be 51% of GMV across its marketplaces, up from 27% a year ago. In Brazil, by contrast, eCommerce players of all types tend to see lower figures in terms of both GMV and total transactions via mobile. B2W, for example, one of the top players in online retail in Brazil, reported that 16% of orders placed in Q1 2015 were via mobile. As the percentage of mobile revenues grows in both markets, so will expectations of companies’ mobile experiences.    

At Alibaba, overall sales are shifting heavily toward mobile 

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Fitbit IPO: The Road Ahead

Julie Ask

Fitbit made its S1 filing coming off a quarter of astounding growth: $336.8M in revenue – up from $108.8M in Q1 2014. The enterprise generated $48M in net income. Last week we learned it hopes to raise $100M through an IPO. Why would Fitbit IPO now?

There are any number of traditional reasons - raise capital, return money to investors, etc. But what is interesting to debate, however, is the timing of Fitbit’s IPO. Fitbit may have chosen to IPO now so it can:

  • Draft off Apple’s wave. Fitness bands and smart watches have been on the market for years, but sales have been limited – especially for smart watches. Apple’s entry and marketing spend will drive awareness of the category from early adopters on the west coast to mainstream consumers. The tide will lift all boats, as the saying goes.
  • Raise capital at a possible peak. The smart watch may kill off or stymy the growth of lower end fitness bands. The cameras on early mobile phones were not as good as the digital point and shoot cameras or SLR’s owned by consumers, but a camera on hand is better than the one at home in a drawer or closet. The pedometer and sensors on a smart watch may not measure activity with the same precision as a dedicated device, but it may be good enough for many consumers.
  • Take advantage of a market with few IPO candidates. Few small companies will mature enough – let alone show the financial strength – to take their companies public. Many entrepreneurs are building services that make great features rather than great businesses. Their exit strategy is to sell to a Google, Facebook, Salesforce.com, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, or SAP.
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Associate Enablement Is The Unsung Hero Of mPOS

Adam Silverman

As far as digital store initiatives go, iron-clad success stories are notoriously hard to come by. Mobile point-of-service (mPOS) is one of the few digital store technologies that has garnered the attention and investment dollars of retail executives—but the return on investment has been nonetheless elusive. Adam Silverman - Forrester - Principal Analyst - mPOSDespite large-scale deployments by a number of leading players (including Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, and Bloomingdales, among others), key questions such as “will this drive incremental revenue?” and “which use cases deliver the most customer and retailer value?” remain. Our newly published report “The Business Case For mPOS Is Associate Enablement” answers these questions and addresses common opportunities and challenges for eBusiness leaders rolling out an mPOS program. In the report, we find that:

  • Consumers expect digitally-enabled associates to facilitate in-store engagement. Retailers must change their thinking and start to view mPOS as more than just a “mobile cash register.” When shoppers see a store associate armed with a mobile device, they expect to receive contextualized assistance when and where they want it. In addition to ringing up sales in aisle, your associates should be prepared to use their devices to access enterprise inventory, provide product information, and give personalized product recommendations.
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US B2B eCommerce Will Reach $1 Trillion

Susan Wu

B2B eCommerce is growing, and it’s growing quickly. In fact, at Forrester we estimate that it will reach more than $1 trillion in the US by 2020, double the size of B2C eCommerce. B2B buyers are rapidly gearing their researching and purchasing activities toward true digital platforms. B2B sellers are similarly shifting their resources toward providing an eCommerce portal to better reach and engage with their customers. 

Forrester's ForecastView team recently conducted a pioneering study on the B2B eCommerce market where we explored nine product categories and their evolution toward online buying. We define B2B eCommerce as a digital, transactional exchange between companies that takes place over a website. We exclude spending that flows through traditional electronic data interchange (EDI) channels or back channels.  The majority of B2B spending takes place through wholesaler and distributor channels, which provide a varying array of value-added services such as storage, packaging, sorting, and labeling. The future landscape of B2B commerce is changing on several fronts that could potentially impact how wholesalers and distributors traditionally do business, especially online: 

  • There’s an increased need for automation. As independent establishments continue to merge and give way to larger firms, companies seek to cut distribution costs through their increasing purchase power and economies of scale (see figure below). This alleviates the need for distributors and wholesalers but requires a more automated mechanism to handle larger volumes.
     
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The Real-Time Interaction Management Space Is Dizzyingly Fragmented

Rusty Warner

Back in February, I published a brief on Demystifying Real-Time Interaction Management, where I reviewed evolving requirements for building a contextual marketing engine, capable of engaging empowered customers across real-time channels. These requirements include: customer recognition, contextual understanding, decision arbitration, offer orchestration, and measurement and optimization. 

As promised then, I have been researching the RTIM space, and you can now read my latest report Market Overview: Real-Time Interaction Management, published last week. In this market overview, I look at four distinct – yet all critical – approaches to RTIM:

1.      Enterprise marketing technologies address all five RTIM requirements, though offerings vary widely by vendors who focus on enterprise marketing software suites (EMSS), cross-channel campaign management (CCCM), marketing automation, business process management (BPM), customer relationship management (CRM, and loyalty programs.

2.      Advanced analytics is a prerequisite for successful RTIM execution, addressing all requirements except offer orchestration.  The broad analytics spectrum includes customer profiles, predictive models, and digital intelligence for web analytics, tag management, and identity management.

3.      Digital marketing solutions address personalization for websites and social media channels, and include advertising technologies such as data management platform (DMP) and demand-side platform functionality for paid media targeting and re-targeting.

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