Forrester: Marketers Still Customer Experience Clods

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While few marketers would argue that happy customers are the meat-and-potatoes of brand love, a new report from Forrester says that many companies are still getting it wrong. Sure, there may be plenty of buzz about Net Promoter Scores, journey maps or customer obsession, but most companies are still inept at using customer insights to drive profits.

“While a small minority of organizations has been at the customer experience game for years, the vast majority is still dabbling,” write Forrester analysts Kerry Bodine and Ron Rogowski. “That means organizations’ customer experience adoption and maturity levels will continue to vary wildly for the next decade.”

The pair predict that while early adopters in customer experience -- specifically, the companies that are already investing in order to join the likes of Apple, Disney, Starbucks, or Zappos in the experience pantheon -- will make big breakthroughs in the year ahead, they anticipate some predictable (and expensive) gaffes for those who are coming late to the customer experience party.

Some fall into the realm of too little research, with many late-adopters skating on the surface of customer experience measures. “Persona and journey map groupies will skip foundational qualitative research…imitating their form while forgetting that the end goal isn’t a set of artifacts but the insights they encompass.”

Others will err on the other end, with big data trumping big insights. The report speculates that “quant geeks” will lead companies to be “absolutely mesmerized by aggregated customer insights. They’ll spend enormous amounts of time and money amassing new data sources -- and less effort figuring out what to do with it all.”

In addition, it predicts that many marketers will  “mistake messaging for experience improvements.” As an example, it cites a major investment firm that “spent $40 million on a media buy to make its unhappy advisors feel better about their jobs. This is, quite frankly, flushing money down the toilet.”

While “advertising agencies will reap the short-term financial benefits of whitewashing campaigns created to cover up experience blunders…. When their empty promises fail, marketers will be forced to shift their ad budgets to experience initiatives in 2014 and beyond.”

But for the brands that are already elbows-deep in customer experience, the pair sees more positive changes, including a big shift to emotional insights. “The idea that happy customers are more likely to remain loyal, try new products and services, and spread good news about their experiences has started to catch on,” they write.  “Over the past several months, we’ve seen a rise in the number of companies pondering the connection between enjoyment and metrics like satisfaction and Net Promoter Score (NPS).”

Another change is that “ecosystem maps will be the new journey maps ... journey maps only show the tip of the experience iceberg. In 2013, companies will need tools that connect customer journeys to the people, processes, and technologies that lay beneath the surface.” 

And finally, Forrester says the year ahead will see a major swing toward employee engagement, “as customer experience professionals dissect the inner workings of their companies, they’ll soon realize that all of their efforts ultimately hinge on corporate culture -- and its close cousin, employee engagement. Based on the sheer number of inquiries we’ve received about employee engagement over the past few months, we expect this topic to be white hot in 2013 and beyond.”

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2 comments about "Forrester: Marketers Still Customer Experience Clods ".
  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , January 8, 2013 at 9:07 a.m.
    With a $20,000 annual income (40 hours/wk, 50 wks/yr, $10/hr), what type of employee engagement do you expect ? What does your rent, food and transportation cost ? Now add in phone and electric and a few pharmaceuticals and what have you got ? Would a 10% raise make much difference ? Maybe some other questions need to be addressed, too.
  2. Jennifer Kramp from Touchpoint Dashboard , January 9, 2013 at 11:13 a.m.
    Great post! I agree that journey maps absolutely need to evolve in order to relevant and provide any strategic and long-term value to companies. A map should be more than just a pretty picture illustrating how customers interact with our businesses. It should provide a deep and holistic view of the customer experience. It should synch qualitative customer feedback with quantifiable business and customer data. It should help us pinpoint exactly where we fall short of customer expectations and provide the data to prove how those short-comings affect the bottom line so we can put strategic improvement plans in place. Like you said in your post, “Companies will need tools that connect customer journeys to the people, processes, and technologies that lay beneath the surface.” The company I work with, Touchpoint Dashboard, has a customer experience tool that helps companies do this. You might benefit from checking it out. Thanks again for the great post! Jennifer TouchpointDashboard.com