Monday, April 25, 2016

The Broken Customer Experience of Media and Publishing

photo credit: Words via photopin (license)
Publishers have traditionally focused on the quality of their content rather than their customer experience, but trends in technology and consumer behavior are changing that. Two recent occurrences made me think of how vital customer experience is to the future of individual companies in this category and the concept of an independent and trusted news media.

The first of these occurrences was reading earlier this year about one newspaper's problems with delivery as they switched distributors. My friend Josh Bernoff wrote about the troubles from both the professional and personal perspectives (since he was not getting his newspaper as expected). Even in this digital age, physical distribution of the newspaper matters, because media organizations, like most companies, must serve their existing customers while finding ways to attract new ones with evolving digital models. And it matters in this particular industry because digital ad revenues have not come close to making up for the 65% loss in print ad revenues newspapers have suffered in the past decade.

Publishers' desire to increase ad revenue can come into sharp conflict with users' expectations, which brings me to my second recent occurrence that brought the customer experience of media to mind. Last week I visited a tech site to read an article, and I honestly felt as if I was in a digital jungle hacking through the spam undergrowth to get to my destination. My experience on this site followed this tortuous path:
  • Close a pop-up ad in a new window.
  • Close an overlay ad that obscured the content.
  • Start reading--momentarily--before a video push-down ad appeared at the top of the page, forcing my content off the bottom.
  • Scroll down to continue reading for fifteen seconds before the push-down ad (which was playing unseen above the top of my window) disappeared, causing the content to scroll once again off the page.
  • Scroll up to continue reading.
  • At this point, the site launched yet another overlay. This one asked me to subscribe to the mailing list. To make matters worse, closing the overlay required me to click a statement along the lines of "No, I don't care about the upcoming trends in tech." Does this publisher think its users are so simpleminded they can be manipulated into registering because of an aversion to clicking that phrase?

I left the site without reading the article. After 30 seconds, I'd read just two paragraphs and was forced to take five separate actions because ads either blocked the content or chased it off my screen. I will not return to this site. In fact, I hope no one does.

Desperate times may call for desperate measures for publishers, but the customer is still in charge. To read more about how consumers are reacting, how publishers are responding, why trust in the news media is at crisis levels and how customer experience is a powerful tool for publishers, please continue reading on the Gartner blog.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

What Loyalty Means to Customer Experience

photo credit: stirling june 2015, via photopin, (license)
Actions speak louder than words, but actions are easy to misinterpret, and marketers who misunderstand the actions of customers can damage their brands' business and marketing results. Today, many marketers are measuring what they believe to be loyalty but is actually something very different and much less. Reminding ourselves what the word "loyalty" really means can improve our brands' marketing analytics, customer experience, and customer retention.

In my new report for marketing leaders, "How to Align Customer Experience With Marketing Channel Operations," we explore the customer journey in the age of the empowered consumer. Today's smart devices and social media do more than just change the ways people consume information and see ads--they also alter the way consumers consider, select, use and advocate for products and services. As a result, one of the key goals for customer experience programs must be to map a journey that identifies new ways to deliver not just satisfaction and usage but loyalty and advocacy.

Understanding the difference between a satisfied customer and a loyal one is vital if marketers are to deliver long-term success with customer experience programs. To read more about what loyalty means, how marketers often measure it incorrectly and how this damages brands' customer experience and business outcomes, please visit my complete Gartner blog post. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

In Customer Experience, Intent Speaks Louder Than Content

There is nothing quite like traveling to make clear the difference between customer experience content and intent--content is the things we say and intent is the reasons for what we do.

I took a quick a business trip this week, and my hotel experience left me wondering if the brand's leaders realize how easy it is for customers to detect the enormous gap between its content and intent. That gap is more important than customer experience professionals (CX) often realize, because humans perceive the difference between intent and content with great clarity.

I checked into a very nice hotel, and the employees greeted me with the appropriate level of warmth and professionalism. They told me how much they valued me as a guest, but when I arrived at the room, I found a minibar with a 1.3-ounce can of potato chips for $4.50 and a 3-ounce candy bar for $3.50. Of course, if I had exited the hotel and visited the convenience store next door, I could have purchased these same items two-thirds cheaper. Not only did the hotel hope to gouge me on the price of the minibar items, it also adds a 20% "convenience fee" to the price. (How convenient of them!) And, to truly make me feel like an honored guest, the minibar has sensors, so if I picked up an item to check its nutritional value or ingredients, I would be charged.

I was told several times during my stay how much the staff appreciated me being a "guest," but all I could do is think about the 90%-plus margin and theft-deterrent sensors in my minibar. The words of Inigo Montoya from Princess Bride came to mind: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Compare this lodging experience to one I had last year when the staff greeted me with equal warmth and professionalism but offered a complimentary cookie and bottled water. Or, to give this an even more contemporary spin, compare my recent hotel experience to my Airbnb stay last fall where the host welcomed us with a free bottle of wine and basket of local treats.

The difference isn't in the content--in each of these lodging examples I was welcomed and offered snacks. The disparity in intent could not be more different, however; in two of these cases, the intent was to make being away from home more pleasant while the hotel this week intended to extract maximum revenue at an excessive margin from a hungry traveler too weary to walk a block to buy a snack.

Click here to continue reading on my Gartner blog where I discuss that one way to align content with intent is to determine the right balance of concurrent and leading metrics as goals for your customer experience program.