Customer Experience Q&A With Stephen Cannon, President And CEO, Mercedes-Benz USA

Harley Manning

When I was 10 years old, I heard my father and my Uncle Bob talking about the car they’d most like to own. Noticing me, Uncle Bob asked, “How about you, Harley? What car do you want to drive when you grow up?”

I immediately answered, “A Mercedes!”

My father’s eyes widened as Uncle Bob replied, “You have excellent taste.”

Forty years later, Mercedes-Benz still symbolizes “excellent taste” for me and millions of other people around the globe. It’s not just about high quality: The Mercedes brand sets a standard of comparison; it’s shorthand for “great experience” and “luxury.”

And that’s why we’re so excited that Stephen Cannon, the president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, is our lead-off industry speaker at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East next week in New York. Cannon is just perfect as the keynote address for an event with the theme “Good Is Not Good Enough” — because for Mercedes-Benz, just being “good” would be a serious disappointment.

As we approach the event, Stephen was nice enough to answer some of our questions about the Mercedes-Benz customer experience. Check out what he has to say — and I hope we both see you out in the audience next week at the New York Hilton.

Q: When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why? 

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Why Usage-Based Car Insurers Need Don Draper

Ellen Carney

Don’t you hate when a company advertises a product but fails to make it easy to find and buy?

Mad Men’s Don Draper, who, in the 1960’s could have been as likely to work in insurance as advertising (but the story would have been not nearly so interesting), would have a field day with the findings from Forrester’s just published report, “The Next Act For Usage-Based Car Insurance”, the first in a four-report series addressing the UBI landscape in the US, Canada,and Europe and the future of UBI. 

Smart devices, smartphones, and smart cars are converging to create what should be a smart insurance choice for safe drivers and their insurers. The report examines American consumer interest and adoption of usage-based car insurance and the obstacles to purchase, many of which point directly to insurance eBusiness failings.

When Forrester last looked at the UBI market in 2008 (then termed “Pay As You Drive” or PAYD), consumers couldn’t get it because of a big distribution problem:  It was offered by few insurers in just a few states.  A couple of months ago, we decided to see just what had changed over the past five or so years when it came to consumer interest and purchase.  What did we learn?

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Do you have what it takes to be a loyalty legend?

Emily Collins

There are more than a few loyalty-esque proverbs that float around marketing departments and boardrooms everywhere: "repeat customers spend more," "it costs five times more to acquire a customer than to retain a customer,"  "80% of your revenue is driven by 20% of your customer base." If you are reading this blog post, chances are that you have uttered at least one of these phrases at some point in your career. But, if you've ever tried to put your money where your mouth is, you also know that achieving true customer loyalty requires strategic alignment, deliberate planning, and financial and cultural commitments. Loyalty is both behavioral and emotional, and companies that really want to compete for their customers’ loyalty need an evolved approach that extends beyond the program.

To help you understand where your loyalty strategy stacks up, Forrester has developed new self-assessments that examine loyalty from two points of view: the business' and the member's:

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Possible Ways To Monetize WeChat

Xiaofeng Wang

Mobile messaging apps are super-hot, but it’s still early days for monetization. WeChat, the largest mobile social platform in China, has been focusing on building a large user base globally and maintaining stickiness by upgrading its functionalities constantly. With the strong support of Internet giant Tencent, monetization is not an urgent concern for WeChat yet, but it has paved the way for many monetization options.

There are three options that could work well in monetizing WeChat:

  • Mobile gaming. Online gaming is Tencent’s best strength and the primary source of its revenue, so it’s natural for the Internet giant to want to transfer that strength to mobile. For example, when Tencent launched its first WeChat game, the Candy Crush-like Tiantian Ai Xiaochu, it soon became the most downloaded game in the app store. In-app purchases in games will become an important money generator for WeChat.
  • Mobile commerce and payments. Selling products on the WeChat platform is not new; last year, local smartphone brand Xiaomi sold 150,000 units in 10 minutes on WeChat. But with the successful launch of the new WeChat Payment service and its cooperation with JD.com, China's second-largest eCommerce player, mobile commerce and payments will soon become scalable on WeChat.
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The Enterprise Marketing Software Landscape, 2014 Edition

Corinne Munchbach

Forrester has written about enterprise marketing software (EMS) for almost a decade and in the course of that 10 years, there are a meager two things that have stayed the same: 1) the name and 2) the fact that we're talking about technology marketers use. Beyond that, the EMS space has undergone enough major change to be almost unrecognizable from earlier renditions. To that end, I just published a new/old report called "Let's Revisit The Enterprise Marketing Software Landscape (Again)" that builds on our existing years of research but offers a significant makeover to the categories and how we think about the components of the marketing software technology stack. Where used to put capabilities into four pretty traditional buckets — marketing management, brand management, relationship marketing, and online marketing — now we offer four new buckets, based on our contextual marketing research. The four new categories are interactions, analytics, insights, and automation.

In the report, I lay out what today's contextual marketer needs to do her much more complex job and therefore what she seeks in her technology. I also offer a lay of the land for a space that continues to change radically and rapidly. The report also highlights the core capabilities the vendors in each of the four categories provide today — and some of the areas on which they need to focus to really stand out for marketers. 

Give it a read and then let me know what you think of our categories and how you're sourcing all of these capabilities in your marketing org today. Enjoy!

A Mobile Moments Interpretation On Priceline's Purchase Of OpenTable

Josh Bernoff

You doubtless saw the recent news that Priceline bought OpenTable for $2.6 billion.

A lot of the articles on this talk about why it "makes sense" (the typical after-the-fact justification that journalists do). Once you get past the dining puns in the headlines, you learn that the merger makes sense because Priceline sells mostly outside the US and OpenTable mostly within the US -- so they can target each other's customers. Or it makes sense because Priceline can sell restaurant reservations to its travelers.

These justifications are all true, but allow me to propose a different justification. Imagine for a moment that the world is undergoing a mobile mind shift -- and that mobile moments are becoming more valuable. OpenTable has dominated the restaurant reservation moment. You can be anywhere, decide to make a reservation, check reviews, and book a table in a moment. It's a perfectly suited task for an app, and the OpenTable app is perfect for it.

OpenTable has also cleverly embedded itself into restaurants -- many of them use its system to manage reservations, even as their customers use it to make reservations. I don't know if there is a restaurateur app from Open Table, but there ought to be. Why not manage the reservations on your mobile device as well?

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The Data Digest: How Do Consumers Perceive Corporate Mergers?

Anjali Lai

With Kristopher Arcand

From Time Warner and Comcast to AT&T and DirecTV, corporate mergers appear to be the latest tactic in winning the battle for market share and driving innovation. From a business perspective, the strategic advantages of such mergers may be clear — but what do these changes look like from the consumer’s viewpoint? To understand consumer reaction to the latest series of merger announcements, Forrester leveraged its Technographics360 approach of linking multiple data sources to give a holistic view of consumers. Specifically, we tuned into online chatter with our social listening platform and engaged our ConsumerVoices market research online community for this analysis.

According to the data, consumers associate mergers with increased costs, fewer opportunities for choice, and decreased product and service quality. While a few individuals appreciate the potential for innovation that mergers might afford, the prevailing sentiment is uncertainty:

The fact that individuals are wary of these corporate mergers partially stems from the timeless truism that “people are afraid of change.” To mainstream consumers, a large merger suggests a loss of customer control and greater uncertainty; according to the Harvard Business Review, these are the top two qualities that underpin a fear of change.

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Digital Business Means its Time to Evolve

Martin Gill

I’m returning from three days at Forrester’s Technology Management Forum in London. The theme was “Unleash Your Digital Business”, and a very public event on the first day hammered home the timeliness and relevance of the story.

Parliament passed the “Ordinance for the Regulation of Hackney-Coachmen”in 1654.  London at that time would have been unrecognizable to the modern city-dweller. Over a decade before the Great Fire destroyed swathes of the medieval city. Almost 200 years before Charles Dickens immortalized the orphans, beggars and thieves of the smog-shrouded slums of the industrial revolution. But in essence, the act of hailing a taxi remained unchanged since that day.

You stand on a street, wave at a driver and take your chances.

Enter Uber.

And Hailo, and a number of other clones, but Uber is the main bone of contention here. Uber represents the future. It empowers consumers to make a choice, placing power in their hands, and removing it from the service provider. It’s a poster-child for the Age of the Customer. And London’s taxi drivers aren’t happy about it. I will stop short of debating the politics or legislative aspects here – suffice to say that London’s taxi drivers are so unhappy that an estimated 12,000 of them took to the streets on Wednesday to protest. It was messy. And tragically misguided.

The following day, three interesting things happened.

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Customer Experience Rooms: What Are They? Should Your Company Create One?

Sam Stern

In the age of the customer, companies must transform their cultures from product-centric to customer-centric. But that is easier said than done. Customer centricity requires all employees to understand who their customers are, how customers perceive their interactions with the company, and the roles employees play in delivering the overall experience. Customer experience (CX) rooms — immersive, interactive spaces that help employees better understand customers — have emerged as a powerful new tool for bringing customers and their journeys to life for workforces. Done well, CX rooms inspire empathy and understanding among employees and help build customer-centric cultures.

In my recent report, "Executive Q&A: Customer Experience Rooms," I answered some of the common questions related to creating a CX room to help companies decide if they should build their own CX room.

Why do companies create CX rooms?

Firms create CX rooms to help employees understand the current customer experience their company delivers and to better understand the intended experience the company wants to deliver. The CX room that Ingrid Lindberg, chief customer experience officer at Prime Therapeutics, created at a previous employer demonstrated how complicated it was for customers to know which of the company's many phone numbers they should call or which of the firm's many websites they should visit.

How do CX rooms help improve customer centricity?

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HERE Plans To Acquire Predictive Analytics Vendor Medio To Better Serve Customers In Their Mobile Moments

Thomas Husson

Today, Nokia’s HERE just announced it plans to acquire Medio Systems, a Seattle-based company that is a pioneer in the emerging field of real-time predictive analytics. I met Medio founder and CTO, Brian Lent, a couple of times in the past few years and have always been impressed by his vision of what analytics would become.

Such an acquisition will help HERE and then Nokia Networks and Technologies deliver more contextualized and personalized experiences by adding smart data to its location intelligence capabilities.

At Forrester, we believe that to embrace the mobile mind shift, companies will have to serve customers in their mobile moments. To do so, they must anticipate their customers’ next likely actions. Already, almost 1 in 4 smartphone users expect their mobile experiences to change based on their location.

According to Nokia, it could, for example, mean delivering individual restaurant recommendations to someone ready for lunch, giving drivers routes that match their driving style based on real-time conditions, or helping businesses personalize their customer offerings.

To be able to deliver these experiences and engage with customers in real time, marketers will have to think about mobile not as yet another digital channel but as a catalyst for business transformation. To do this, Forrester believes they need a business discipline to win in the mobile moment by implementing what we refer to as the IDEA cycle, by:

•       Identifying the mobile moments and context.

•       Designing the mobile engagement.

•       Engineering platforms, process, and people for mobile.

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