Saturday, February 18, 2017

Being Customer First At The Upcoming Gartner Digital Marketing Conference

What does it mean to be “customer first,” and how can companies adopt a more customer-first mindset? That is the focus of one of the tracks at the upcoming Gartner Digital Marketing Conference, May 10 to 12, in San Diego.

Many companies talk about being “customer first,” but how many achieve this goal? In organizations aligned by product or region with aggressive quarterly financial and business goals, the challenges to being customer first are profound but not insurmountable. My peers on the Gartner for Marketing Leaders team have a series of informative presentations to help marketers tackle these challenges.

One way to start is to listen--really listen--to the customer. Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs are vital sources of data and insight about customer wants, needs, experiences, sentiment, and journeys. My presentation on how to launch, run and measure a VoC initiative will help marketers organize programs to align to specific use cases and capture the sorts of metrics that demonstrate the performance, value and safety benefits that VoC programs deliver.

Another way to encourage a customer-first mindset is for marketers to create, distribute and support customer personas. Personas can help leaders across the organization to better understand the needs and preferences of their most valuable customers, resulting in better customer-centered decisions. My peers Jane-Anne Mennella and Jake Sorofman will discuss how marketers can create personas and use them to execute front- and back-stage customer experience (CX) strategies.

To learn about our other sessions at the upcoming event, please continue reading on the Gartner blog. We'll be covering issues of mobile customer experience, atomic content strategy, executing internal company journeys inside complex organizations and ways to match data and metrics to every step of the customer journey.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day: A Day For Love, Brands and Customer Experience

Source: Laura Ockel,
Today is a day to ponder the nature of love, which makes it the perfect day for marketers to consider customer experience. After all, the Buy/Own/Advocate customer journey model contains a stage for Love. Love is what turns a stale customer journey that fails to create a strong relationship into a successful one built on satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.

Although there are differences between your relationships with brands and those with loved ones, there are also similarities. People feel strongly about the brands they love in a way that transcends the commercial nature of the relationship. If most of the brands in your life were to disappear tomorrow, you might not even notice, but for a select set of brands in your life, their loss would hurt.

You might be heartbroken if a favorite coffee shop closed. You may lament a favorite retailer changing hands. And the loss of a social network, such as Vine or Club Penguin, can cause people to feel a sense of denial and anger--the first two stages in humans' process for dealing with loss. Heck, some people will even ink their favorite brands onto their body in the same place others would display a heart tattoo surrounding the name of a spouse or child.

What might brands learn about customer experience from the fact people can love brands in much the same way they love other people? I find this a worthwhile thought exercise because it can encourage marketers to reassess their attitudes about their customers, products, and measurement.

Here are three questions to spark thought and dialog:

Can you measure your love for your spouse or significant other on a spreadsheet?

Every couple goes through rough patches every now and then, and when this happened to you, how did you know without an objective metric or dashboard? Was it purely about the number of hugs or kisses per day? Was the warning sign that the number of times you uttered "I love you" dropped by 16.8%? Somehow, you are able to assess your relationship and respond to potential problems, even though you lack the sort of data, analytics, and dashboards you use to measure your brand relationships.

I'm hardly suggesting customer experience should not or cannot be measured--in fact, the truth is quite the opposite--but what mistakes might you make in your personal relationships if you only tried to measure and evaluate them using an Excel spreadsheet? And what may be lost in our customer relationships if we rigidly stick to quantitative, attributable, and lagging indicators of transaction and dollar volume?
“The measure of love is to love without measure.”― Francis de Sales
For two more questions that explore the differences or similarities between your love of special people in your life and the brands you buy (or manage), please continue reading on my Gartner blog. And best wishes for a warm Valentine's Day! 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Long and Dangerous Customer Experience Road For Revolutionary Hardware and Devices

Source: Me and Prisma
Being an early adopter has its drawbacks, but it provides one an interesting lens through which to view the customer experience challenges of truly revolutionary products. Consumer's rapid and eager embrace of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have lured marketers and other business leaders into expecting swift adoption curves for each new wave of technology. But it is important to remember that the accelerated acceptance and use of those software solutions could only have been enabled by a massive base of implemented hardware--and that hardware took a much longer and more tortured route to mass adoption.

Does My Experience of Purchase and Abandonment Match Yours?

I was pondering the customer experience of hardware recently while recalling all of the purchases I have made and abandoned in recent years. I am sure I am not alone in these experiences.

Three years ago I bought a smartwatch. I wore it for a couple months, got annoyed, and gave it away. It was clunky, slow, difficult to manage, had poor usability, and the battery life was disappointing, but the real killer was that it didn't add anything my smartphone wasn't already providing more easily and effectively.

Two years ago I bought a fitness wearable. It broke once, I fixed it, it broke again, and I abandoned it. Besides being poorly constructed, it had limited functionality, and the data it collected seemed wildly unreliable, but the real killer was that I got nearly as much value from using the free mobile app to track my exercise as from having the fitness band do it.

Last year I got an Oculus Rift. I played with it, got bored, and now I touch once every week or two--not completely abandoned, but almost. The head-tracking rocked and the 3D was great, but the real killer was that the games available for my old-fashioned monitor were leaps and bounds more engaging than the relatively crude options available through the Oculus Store.

And three months ago, I purchased an Amazon Alexa Dot. It does a few things very well--the device is perfect for playing music on demand and as a party novelty--but I am using it less and less because it doesn't do many things well. The real killer was that I expected it to be fully functioning and intuitive out of the box, but instead, users must add "skills," the installable apps for Amazon Alexa devices. Apps are great on my phone, where I can see and interact with the icons, but the app model doesn't work nearly as well when I have to memorize verbal commands. To make matters worse, the Amazon skills directory is flooded with confusing and poor-quality options. Now, my Alexa device gets more use erroneously responding to dialog on TV shows than accurately responding to my wife's or my commands.

Exception to the Rule: My One Successful New Device

The one exception to my expensive purchase-and-abandon habit has been my Amazon Fire TV Stick. The inexpensive device was easy to setup, the voice commands work well, it is intuitive to use, and I find this is the one new device that is getting regular and ongoing usage. Amazon Studio's "Man in the High Castle" is the current binge-watching fascination in our household, and the Fire TV Stick has become my go-to method for interacting with Netflix and Spotify.

To learn more about my Fire TV Stick experience, what it says about customer experience and the reasons why first-mover advantage goes to the brand that first gets customer experience right, please read my entire blog posts on my Gartner blog.