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  • Posted by: Dominik von Jan on Thursday, July 25 2013 05:47 PM | Comments (0)
    Google Glass Presentation

    I had the pleasure of participating on a panel about The Three C’s of Mobile Success at VentureBeat’s recent Mobile Beat conference. Moderator Erik Loehfelm from Universal Mind, Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, Trulia’s Consumer Products VP Lee Clancy and I had a very interesting discussion around what makes mobile marketing activities work: Customers, Content and Context.

    Since a lot of the conference revolved around mobile innovation, wearables and the utility and marketing opportunities that go along with them – from medical condition monitoring intelligent skin adhesives to productivity enhancing, James Bond-like super watches – we took a short detour into the device world of tomorrow. Having done a lot of industry research in the field, Sarah Rotman Epps drew an inspiring picture of the new app opportunities that Google Glass open up, and what that means for utility-based marketing as opposed to advertising.

    Near field communications (NFC) will have a whole new playing field in the still fairly geek-y looking eyewear, beaming personalized offers, shopping cart reminders or product information into your field of vision when you pass a retail brand you interacted with in the past. Speak of relevant content and relevant context.

    The question of “are customers permitting such targeted and somewhat personal sphere-invading communications” didn’t take long to be raised. The consensus was that as long as personalized information and services provide a true value add and increase convenience, consumers are embracing them. Think Amazon’s “Customers who bought this item also bought” section that pulls product recommendations based on users’ browsing behavior as the least intrusive example, automatically saved travel preferences in mobile apps like Delta Airline’s Fly Delta, or the more aggressive retargeting of web users with banner ads from brands whose websites they visited in the past few days.

    Where things got especially interesting from a brand perspective was when we started to talk customer experience in these new customer touchpoints. There was a lot of conversation about brilliant new business models and feature innovations, for example the last-minute-hotel-rooms-at-a-great-price service Hotel Tonight, newcomer IDrive’s platform-agnostic online backup service or Trulia’s foray into the Google Glass app world with a service to find houses for sale - right where you are. And that is a good thing, because it pushes thinking and inspires the next great business innovation.

    Where the conversation was only starting to emerge, though, was in the brand expression through these innovations. Truly strong engagement and loyalty is created when people connect with a brand on an emotional level, when they get to know and appreciate the character of the brand in addition to its innovative utility. That is what makes a brand like MINI Cooper so strong and its customers so happy, or what makes ordering business cards from print service moo.com a surprisingly pleasant process.

    That is where the opportunity for long-term customer loyalty comes in: The innovative feature itself will be copied by the competition at some point, but the brand personality can’t be. That’s why I am convinced we will see and hear a lot more conversation in the future about how to innovate and build personality. A good sign of that was Dave Mathew’s (CEO & Founder of mobile connectivity platform NewAer) call out “We need more whimsy in mobile apps!”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Dominik von Jan is Senior Director, Digital at Interbrand New York.

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  • Posted by: Kevin Perlmutter on Monday, July 9 2012 07:36 PM | Comments (0)

    Forrester Research Forum Feedback 

    There is no doubt that customer experience is more important than ever before for many companies – no longer viewed as nice to have, but a must have. Improving customer experience is foundational to Interbrand’s work for every client, every day.

    After last year’s Forrester Customer Experience Forum, I reflected on the conversations Interbrand was having with many clients and the key themes that resonated during the forum. In 2011, five key themes emerged around crucial activities for launching significant customer experience improvement programs:

    • Centralize customer experience leadership and embed key stakeholders across the company, working as cross-functional ambassadors.

    • Have a clearly defined customer experience strategy that is integrally linked to the overall brand strategy - helping to guide how customers experience the brand at all touch points.

    • Uncover actionable customer insights to serve as a road map to creating clear and relevant strategies to improve the customer experience.

    • Orchestrate well-designed, seamless and consistent experiences that address customer needs efficiently and exceed expectations.

    • Remember customer-centricity is not merely an initiative, but a long-term cultural commitment.

    The difference in 2012 is many companies have gotten over the first hurdles in their efforts and they are looking to develop ways to take foundational elements up a notch. Those who have truly committed to customer-centricity are now deeply engaged in activating their strategies. Breaking down organizational barriers, they are proving what we all know to be true – good customer experiences add value to the brand and business.

    What became clear this year are five key tactics that customer experience front-runners are using to overcome obstacles, drive activation and find success. They are evident in Interbrand’s client work, and were echoed throughout the Forrester 2012 event:

    1. Recognize that Customer Expectations are High

    2. Begin with an Outside-In Perspective

    3. Drive Cultural Change

    4. Think Mobile First

    5. Measure What’s Relevant

    A quote that came up in at least three presentations is, “We need customers more than they need us.” One speaker suggested attendees post this quote on the walls in their offices. The fact is if customers are not getting what they desire from a business in terms of product or experience, they will most likely go elsewhere the first chance they get. Customer expectations are high and businesses need to recognize this and plan for it to thrive, beginning with self-audits to see where improvement may be needed.

    Getting an outside-in perspective is such a big topic, it was actually the official theme of the Forrester event and is the subject of an upcoming book by Forrester analysts. While the rigor of customer journey mapping is still important, there are other ways to get a perspective on how customers are experiencing a brand - mining customer data, conducting ethnographic research, mystery shopping or undercover observing. Today we need to get out from behind desks and into the shoes of customers. As we’ve seen with our own clients, “You may not like the way you look.”

    For many companies sub-par customer experience is certainly not their intention, but has become systemic. The technology systems, layers of bureaucracy, departmental silos and the need for investment all get in the way of making improvements. Customers, however, don’t want to experience the “white space between channels,” as said by Laurie A. Tucker, SVP Corporate Marketing at FedEx. Therefore, it is crucial to break down organizational and cultural barriers to serving the customer how they want to be served. This was a consistent theme shared by forum presenters.

    At Interbrand, we’ve helped those who have the courage to gather evidence, put together the vivid examples and business cases, and evangelize a vision of a better brand. We’ve worked with businesses to begin to turn around the most stubborn of corporate cultures.

    As companies work to revolutionize their cultures, many are turning to technology to help them revolutionize the tools they’re using to improve customer experiences as well. In 2010 I published the article “Driving Demand with Wireless.”  The premise was that the impact of wireless was beginning to revolutionize how customers experience brands and how industries conduct business. This not only remains true, but is happening at an accelerated pace, especially as 4G LTE networks begin to light up.

    Today, consumers want to experience things as intuitively as they do on a mobile device - as simple as “Finger to Glass” as said by Phil Bienert, SVP Consumer Digital Experience at AT&T. Marketers need to seriously consider the simplicity people have in accessing all that is core to their work and personal life, and recognize that it certainly shouldn’t be more difficult to get great customer service or make purchases. Lots can be accomplished by applying the simplicity of a mobile app to their other customer touch points.

    Many companies collect large amounts of data. But how much of it is acted upon? More importantly, how much is truly taking the pulse of customers’ experiences? Those who have been successful are focusing on the right metrics. They are seamlessly connecting customer experience improvements to specific tangible results in terms of customer metrics and financial performance. They are also using that data to determine priorities for the next round of improvements.

    Across many industries, Customer Experience is THE competitive battleground. Whether you recognize it or not, you can be sure your customers do.

    According to Forrester, “Customer Experience leads to profits, but only if you treat it as a business discipline.” In other words, you may need to take it up a notch.

    Kevin Perlmutter is a Senior Director of Brand Strategy in Interbrand’s New York office.

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  • Posted by: Kevin Perlmutter on Thursday, June 23 2011 01:43 PM | Comments (0)

    This is truly a momentous year for customer experience. It’s a year when more and more companies are coming to terms with the fact that delivering a better customer experience is more important and more valuable than ever before. No longer is it viewed as a nice to have, but a must have. This commitment is evident in the increased number of attendees, spanning all levels — from CEO down and across — who attended the 2011 Forrester Customer Experience conference.

    While there is serious commitment to the cause, the buzz at this conference, and in our own client conversations, is around the challenges faced by those who attempt to take on big customer experience improvement movements. People are asking, and many great presentations are about, developing a well-orchestrated approach to delivering high quality customer experiences that drive business results.

    Here are five key themes that we often discuss with our clients, and that have been highlights across many great presentations at this conference:

    1. Centralizing leadership and cross functional ambassadors
    Any great cause needs a leader who isn’t afraid to shake things up and overcome resistance. A customer experience movement requires a leader who is ultimately responsible and empowered to do what’s right from a customer perspective at the enterprise level. Cross-functional ambassadors who are dedicated to the cause from all parts of the organization must be partners to influence the breakdown of old practices and the introduction of new ones. Ultimately, ambassadors will help to get cooperation and inspire required cultural changes.

    2. Defining the brand’s customer experience strategy
    In the past, brand strategy primarily informed communications. Brand strategy now needs to inspire a vision for what the entire customer experience should be. This strategy must be relevant, authentic, differentiating, and clearly understood by employees and customers. A clearly defined customer experience strategy sets the stage for organizational behavior that executes and delivers the desired experience.

    3. Uncovering actionable customer insights
    It’s not just about collecting data. It’s about analyzing data from various sources to understand details important to key audience segments: What makes them tick, what is most relevant and fulfilling to them, and how they want to be served through a multitude of channels. Customers should be observed and brought into one-on-one discussions. Mapping their journey reveals opportunities for improvement. All of this sheds light on what drives their decisions and level of loyalty. If monitored and acted on, relationships with these customers will grow stronger.

    4. Orchestrating a well-designed and deliberate experience
    Often times many customer interactions happen completely independently of one another. From a customer perspective, the experience is very disjointed, and honestly they don’t care about company silos. The customer experience strategy and customer experience team should guide a well-coordinated, well-designed, and consistent approach to serving customers: What are the most appealing products, services and features for which the brand should be known? How will customer-facing environments and channels be staged to bring the brand to life and serve customers throughout their journey? How will communications whet appetites? And how will employees need to be informed, engaged, and aligned to do what’s in the best interests of the brand and deliver the desired customer experience?

    5. Remembering that customer-centricity is not an initiative
    Customer experience improvement is an ongoing effort that requires long-term commitment, because the bar is constantly moving. It makes great sense to start small and build momentum, but ultimate success will be realized when a customer-centric approach is fundamental to how the company operates. This requires cultural changes, ongoing insight generation, KPI monitoring, and a dedicated team to coordinate the organizational efforts required to exceed customer expectations.

    In one of the most impressive case history presentations at the conference, Kevin A. Peters, President North American Retail at Office Depot said, “It’s long overdue for people to be saying that the customer is the most important thing we should focus on, and it’s great to see so many people here focused on just that.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

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