Google I/O Recap: Google Rises To The Virtual Agent Challenge

Julie Ask

Google took a few big steps forward at Google I/O 2016 to fill in its portfolio to win, serve and retain customers in their mobile moments. Three new product announcements should propel Google forward. They include:

  1. Google Home. Google Home looks like an incredibly promising (and necessary) entry into the home virtual assistant or agent hardware market. Like Amazon, Google led with a story of entertainment and media followed by that of virtual assistance. Google claims the combination of natural language processing, artificial intelligence and years of experience with consumer inquiry patterns via Search will push it beyond the competition. Google’s entry validates the space and its vision to sit between the consumers and their favorite brands. However, Google also failed to offer answers to questions such as a firm date on availability, price or access to the service – how open will access be for brands who want to engage their consumers on Google Home?
  2. Allo. Allo is late to the instant messaging game, but on time for the bot frenzy. Brands are exploring bots that offer customer service or support and help them sell products and services. Google will launch Allo this summer with a host of well-known brands such as OpenTable, Uber and GrubHub. Like Facebook -- and despite a dependence on advertising revenue -- Google did not announce any opportunities specific to marketers for advertising or broad consumer engagement. Google will still facilitate consumers getting reservations or finding concert tickets – sitting between the brand and the consumer. The strategy is both expected and smart.
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European Marketers Are More Likely To Model And Measure Customer-Obsessed Leadership

James McQuivey

It's the age of the customer, and only the leaders who know how to lead their organizations to increased customer obsession will be able to keep up with hyperadoptive consumers. Those consumers already expect to get what they want, when, where, and how they want it. The only question will be who will give it to them? Will it be you?

It's a question I asked today on stage at Forrester's Marketing Europe 2016 forum in London. I shared with them an overview of my recent report, "Leadership In The Age Of The Customer," a months-long project that revealed the five things that customer-obsessed leaders must do. I then asked the attendees to answer five questions. Just more than 40 executives took my short five-question survey, allowing me to compare the marketers in the UK and from across Europe with their counterparts in the US, where I asked the same questions just a few weeks ago. See the chart below to see how they compared.

As you can tell, our UK colleagues are more confident in how effectively they measure customer obsession. That's a tremendous thing. In a few key areas, however, they fall slightly behind, such as in recognizing and rewarding customer obsession in others and especially in providing the resources that are needed to achieve customer obsession. 

What to do next? You can measure yourself in more detail than these five questions — in a survey that still takes fewer than 10 minutes to complete. Just go to http://bit.ly/AoCLeadershipStudy to participate in and learn more about the full study.

Also, sign up for our upcoming webinar, "Adapting Leadership To The Customer-Led Market." See the link below, and click to register. See you there.

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Spain, Turkey, And Poland Continue To Lead The Way In The European Mobile Banking Market

Aurelie L'Hostis

For the second year in a row, Spain’s CaixaBank tops our review of European banks’ mobile banking services. Not only CaixaBank delivers the basics superbly when it comes to transactional features, it also excels in offering a wide array of touchpoints including a smartwatch app and a fully-optimized mobile website with product research tools, as well as best-in-class alert services, and outstanding marketing and sales functionality.

Forrester has just published its 2016 European Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark, revealing important insights about the current state of European mobile banking. We evaluated the mobile banking services of 11 of the largest retail banks in Europe, and found out that CaixaBank in Spain, Garanti in Turkey, and Bank Zachodni WBK in Poland continue to lead in mobile banking. The three banks achieve mobile banking success by offering both strong basic functionality and a wide range of next-generation features. For example, CaixaBank lets customers make mobile contactless payments in store by providing a digital wallet integrated into the main mobile banking app. Garanti offers an interactive, voice-activated virtual assistant that customers can use to search the app for functionality and various task like finding a past transaction. Bank Zachodni WBK helps customers reach human help easily by offering video banking through their mobile banking app.

 

[Image Below: Bank Zachodni WBK Offers Video Banking Through Its Mobile App]

                                                          

 

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Post-Digital Marketers Use Customer Experience To Demonstrate Their Brand Promises

Shar VanBoskirk

Customer experience is critical to business success.  But customer experience simply for customer experience sake can leave businesses chasing customer whims that don't align with operational goals or brand identity. (See Figure 5 in Thriving In A Post Digital World).  Forrester Senior Analyst Joana van den Brink-Quintanilha tackled this difficulty of balancing customer experience and brand experience in her after-lunch presentation at Marketing Europe 2016. 

Her research identifies four ways to avoid brand and customer experience dissonance:

1) Paint a vivid picture -- This is not about building a 60 page static brand strategy, but rather determining the key emotional moments a customer goes through and identifying how to meet those needs with on brand experiences.  AirBNB storyboarded critical moments for both their hosts and guests and uses these storyboards to focus the efforts of marketing, customer service and employee training.

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Marketing Leaders Will Provoke Customer Obsession By Developing Post-Digital Strategies

Shar VanBoskirk

And Forrester's Marketing 2016 Europe forum is under way!

Forum host Melissa Parrish just kicked off our two days in London by acknowledging that ideas related to customer obsession aren't new per se.  John Spedan Lewis, originated the John Lewis Partnership in 1929 which distributed profits from the John Lewis department stores to employees, specifically so that employees would be invested in delivering exceptional customer service.  What is new today is that the post-digital climate has raised customer expectations from brand experiences and introduced new, faster ways for businesses to get customers what they want in their moment of need.

So how can you -- as a marketing leader at your organization -- drive customer obsession and post-digital strategies?

James McQuivey presented the answer to this question based on his most recent research Leadership In The Age of The Customer.

How leaders act has more influence on business culture and transformation than who they are or what they say.  Customer obsessed leaders specifically:

  • Measure customer obsessed behavior
  • Reward people for performing against those metrics
  • Unblock performance inhibitors by removing obstacles
  • Model customer obsessed behaviors that they want employees to demonstrate
  • Provide resources

In my morning keynote tomorrow, I will be addressing how demonstrating the actions James highlighted will help your brand be more Human, Helpful and Handy -- the key characteristics of post-digital marketers.  Can't wait!

Decoding The Programmatic Media Buying Ecosystem In The World’s Largest Digital Market

Xiaofeng Wang

Digital media buying is changing dramatically all over the world — traditional buying models have been displaced by new programmatic buying models. China, the world’s largest and fastest-growing digital market, started later in programmatic buying, but is catching up quickly. However, China’s ecosystem is less mature, with hundreds of players competing fiercely in different sectors. My latest report, The World’s Largest Digital Market Goes Programmatic, provides an overview of the landscape and key features of the programmatic buying market in China.

Programmatic buying is gaining momentum in China because:

  • Chinese consumers are addicted to online media. Metro Chinese online adults already spend more time on online media than offline.
  • Spending on online display ads is increasing rapidly. As a result of skyrocketing online media consumption, China is now the second-largest online advertising market in the world. Metro Chinese online adults are also more open to online display ads than online adults in the US.
  • Advertisers are eager to improve buying effectiveness. China’s digital advertising market is more fragmented than those in Western countries, and it’s more challenging for Chinese marketers to achieve a positive return on their digital investments.
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The Data Digest: Facebook Dominates The Social Landscape

Nicole Dvorak

Today, the average US smartphone owner spends over 2 hours per day using apps and websites on their device — more time than they spend watching TV. Despite this, most of the time that consumers spend using these mobile devices is to communicate with others. Downloaded social networking and communication apps — messaging, email, and digital video/voice – come in a variety of forms; some facilitate intimate conversation, while others blast a network (or even the public) with a one-way status update. As a whole, these apps achieve some of the highest app reach and engagement rates for both US and UK consumers.

My recent report, The Uptake And Engagement Of Social Mobile Apps In The US And The UK, compares the reach of social mobile apps as well as the average number of days per month and sessions per day that smartphone owners (18+) use these apps. Using Forrester's Mobile Audience Data (passively tracked smartphone data), we found that:

  • Facebook is still the most popular app used by both US and UK smartphone owners today.
  • Messaging apps like Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Kik keep users coming back frequently throughout the day.
  • Smartphone owners access email apps frequently throughout the course of a month.
  • The Instagram app reaches more users and has them coming back more frequently than the Twitter app in the US.
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“Uber For X”: The X Doesn’t Stand For Experience

Deanna Laufer

An on-demand startup called Peach began delivering lunch to my office recently. Depending on the day, I can order mango chicken curry, mushroom tacos, or eggplant rollatini, and Peach will deliver it at lunch time for about 10 bucks.

I don’t know about you, but $10 a day for lunch is a bit steep — have you seen the cost of daycare lately? But when the only other option is a mediocre on-site cafe, Peach starts to look better by comparison and has great customer service: When a colleague’s lunch was stolen, Peach refunded her the money — no questions asked. I predict that Peach will succeed — at least at Forrester — because it provides the convenience that on-demand companies are known for, paired with great customer experience.

Unlike Peach, though, recent on-demand failures:

  • Didn’t understand their customers. Helloparking, a Boston startup for finding parking, failed despite multiple pivots. Upon reflection, the founders acknowledged that they “never defined clear hypotheses, developed experiments, and rarely had meaningful conversations with target end users.” What’s worse, they “rarely got out of the building.”
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How Do Your Organization's Omnichannel Capabilities Measure up?

Michelle Beeson

Omnichannel investments are at the top of digital business executive’s priority lists. UK department store John Lewis, among many others, is substantially increasing its capital investment in updating technology systems and operations to support omnichannel and in-store capabilities. But it is still early days for omnichannel commerce, which will be an ongoing initiative requiring continuous optimization. To help digital business executives understand how they currently measure up against peers and competitors, Forrester has published the new omnichannel commerce benchmark as part of the Omnichannel Commerce Playbook 2016. In this new benchmark, Forrester assess 20 leading retailers across the US and UK against omnichannel best practices across key categories – online experience, channel consistency, in-store pickup, and in-store experience.

Our key findings from the survey are:

  • US Retailers Tend To Score Higher In A Wide Spectrum Of Overall Scores. US retailer scores skew toward the higher end of the wide-ranging scores in this benchmark. US retailers' omnichannel capabilities have leapfrogged those of the UK, reflecting the context of US market competition and greater investment in supporting technology.
  • A Disconnect Between Touchpoints Remains. Even retailers with higher overall omnichannel scores still have a disconnect between touchpoints to address. Consistency of experience across all touchpoints and ensuring functionality is device-agnostic remain challenges.
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Your B2B Prospects Don't Want You To Call Them

Steven Casey

So this makes it official: the rite of passage for every new analyst. My first research report, How Self-Service Research Changes B2B Marketing, has just been published.

I covered the premise of this report in my first blog post — but I’ll summarize it here again: multiple Forrester surveys have shown that B2B buyers strongly prefer to conduct their own research, without ever speaking with a sales rep. Forward-thinking B2B marketers will embrace this change and enable the customer-directed research journey with self-service technologies such as contextual help solutions and virtual agents.

Many B2B marketers may feel that this is a risky move — giving up control and resisting the urge to email or call every prospect who lands on your site and guide them along a carefully crafted content path — but after more than a dozen conversations with vendors and their customers to create my report, I’m more convinced than ever that this is the right thing to do. This is true for lots of reasons, which I cover in the report, but the most important one is that we’re all digital consumers now. So the self-service habits we have all learned over the last decade or so are now preferred behaviors — even for B2B buyers, who now just want to be left alone to find the content they need.

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