Why Winning with Digital Is Like Making a Movie


Mastering digital business is a lot like making a movie: you need to assemble a network of experts instead of trying to do it all yourself. Embracing an ecosystem to create customer value was the main take-away of Level Up: The Next Challenge in Digital Mastery, a presentation by Bill Doyle, vice president, principal analyst, Forrester Research. Doyle delivered his remarks October 28, 2014, at the Forrester Forum for eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals.

The theme of the 2014 eBusiness Forum, attended by Fortune 1000 organizations, is “Map Your Path to Digital Mastery.” The purpose of the 2014 Forum is to help business leaders understand how to embrace digital as a way of doing business.

“Digital mastery is a lot bigger than buffing up your website,” Doyle said. “Your competitors are creating new ecosystems to create better products at a lower cost than you can.”

The alternative to mastering digital is to allow digital to disrupt your business. According to Doyle, 93 percent of business executives say digital technology will disrupt their business within the next 12 months, but only 34 percent say they are ready. “A lot of industries are vulnerable right now, ranging from telecom to media,” he said. “It’s not just a matter of if you will be disrupted, but when.”


He compared the evolution of digital to the transformation of the motion picture industry. Decades ago, Hollywood studios used to own the entire process of creating and distributing movies via a vertically oriented system. But anti-trust legislation and, more importantly, the rise of TV, disrupted Hollywood, creating a massive decline in movie attendance.

“The power in Hollywood shifted to agile, independent producers,” he said. “The result was better products: fewer, better movies. Movies today are made via an ecosystem of specialists who come together for the purpose of creating a movie: they disband when done.”

He indicated that thanks to digital, the modern way of making movies is being adopted by many industries across the customer lifecycle. Disruptors such as Uber to Wealthfront are “relying on networks of partners to come together to create better products than vertically oriented firms can.”

For instance, Wealthfront is a “robo-advisor” that provides automated wealth management services. Founded in 2011, Wealthfront relies on a network of partners to provide wealth management, ranging from Xignite for market data to Apex Clearing for accounting opening, funding, and trading. Wealthfront hit $1 billion in asset value twice as fast as it took Charles Schwab to do so. And Wealthfront employs only 50 people, most of whom are developers.

“Wealthfront can offer services at much less cost than traditional assets managers,” he said.


Meantime, Uber famously relies on an ecosystem of drivers, technology affiliates, technology providers, and other partners to upend the transportation industry with surge pricing. Moreover, Uber shares its software with any firm that wants to embed agile, Uber-like capabilities in their own apps.

“When you mess with pricing as Uber is doing, all hell breaks loose,” Doyle added.

According to Doyle, mastering digital is not the province of the smaller start-ups, however. Any business that continuously uses technology to create new sources of value for customers and to increase operational agility in service of customers can succeed as Uber and Wealthfront are doing. In fact, Bank of America, 3M, and Walgreens (all appearing at the 2014 Forum) have done so.

“Established businesses need to accelerate their transition as Bank of America, 3M, and Walgreens are doing,” he added. “Walgreens is undergoing a cultural transformation. Bank of America is riding a storm surge of empowered customers. 3M has a long tradition of customer-centric innovation, which is driving the company’s embrace of digital.”

And the key to winning with digital is the same for big companies as it is for smaller start-ups: move quickly and open up your business to an ecosystem. Act like a modern-day filmmaker and look outside the four walls of your business to find the right talent for the time.


How Ticketmaster Has Fought Resale Marketplaces by Disrupting Itself


If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. That’s the lesson Ticketmaster learned from its own journey through digital disruption, according to Jared Smith, president of Ticketmaster North America. At the Forrester eBusiness Forum November 6, Smith discussed how Ticketmaster has responded to the threat of the ticket resale market by launching its own online marketplace — a gutsy move that has increased sales and improved customer service for the ticket retailer.

Smith said that Ticketmaster is in an unusual position: “we are blessed to be in a business where people stalk our product.” Bruno Mars fans want to know where Bruno Mars will appear and how much it costs to see him even if they don’t end up going to one of his concerts, and they actively use digital to follow his appearances. Ticketmaster customers are passionate. They are driven. They are also frustrated when they can’t get access to their product — and they’ll willingly go to your competitor if you can’t give them that access via an affordable ticket.


As Smith noted, 90 percent of Ticketmaster’s business comes from online and mobile sales — and in the digital world, it’s far too easy for fans to go elsewhere if you don’t give them what they want, a reality that spurred Ticketmaster to change the way it does business. In the 2000s, ticket resellers like StubHub emerged to threaten Ticketmaster by taking advantage of the ease with which Continue reading

4 technologies every CMO must know

In 2011, IBM released a report that identified the four biggest challenges keeping CMOs awake at night: the explosion of data, social media, the proliferation of channels and devices, and shifting consumer demographics. Those challenges also represent growth opportunities with emerging technology as the catalyst. To help marketers anticipate and respond to a constantly changing marketplace, I have collaborated with four of my colleagues at iCrossing on a white paper, Four Technologies Every CMO Must Know in 2012.

Four Technologies Every CMO Must Know in 2012 uses (I hope) approachable, down-to-earth language to explain geeky sounding terms like HTML5 and Hadoop – and discusses their business impact on marketers. For instance, a section on the data management platform (DMP) focuses on how a DMP helps marketers segment audiences and customize content more effectively.

The paper is the result of the efforts of Doug Bryan, Mac Ling, Malcolm Leach, Matt Pouttu-Clarke, and myself. We combined subject matter expertise ranging from analytics to mobile. As we say in the white paper, it’s important that marketers get into the habit of becoming more comfortable with technology, and it’s also pretty easy to do so thanks to the proliferation of free content from the likes of Forrester Research, Gartner, and Mashable.

What technologies are you tracking?

L’Oréal and Procter & Gamble: content marketing masters

In our always-on marketing world, it’s tempting to never look back. But sometimes reflection can be instructive. For instance, I was just reviewing a January 2011 Forrester Research report that cited trends for CMOs to watch in 2011. If you give the report a close read, you find Forrester forecasting the uptake of content marketing – something that did not jump out at me when I read the report nine months ago:

Brands will begin managing owned media like a product. Marketers are taking a more hands-on approach when it comes to the creative product by producing their own content. This past year, Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart stole a strategy from the early days of soap operas and developed three prime-time made-for-television movies through P&G Studios. Meanwhile, Converse launched a community-based recording studio called Converse Rubber Tracks.

In fact, the rise of content marketing, which merited a small mention in Forrester’s report, has become an important part of the CMO’s agenda. And major brands like L’Oréal and Procter & Gamble have made content marketing (defined as building your brand by sharing useful information that engages people) an integral part of their marketing.

L’Oréal: beautiful content

In 2010, L’Oréal asserted itself as one of the most digitally savvy beauty and skincare brands in the L2 Digital IQ Index: Beauty & Skincare report (which was created with the support and sponsorship of my employer iCrossing). Among L’Oréal’s forward-thinking Continue reading

Carnival & Delta monetize their Facebook fans


Recently Carnival Cruise Lines and my employer Razorfish announced the launch of a new Facebook application that makes it possible for people to collaborate with their social network to plan vacation cruises. Cruise enthusiasts can explore different types of vacation options and involve their Facebook friends in the planning and booking of a cruise. Interestingly, the announcement occurs days after Delta Air Lines said it would start selling flights on Facebook.

The Carnival and Delta announcements show how companies are linking social media to commercial transactions — and also how brands can mine customer data gathered on cloud computing platforms like Facebook. It’s one thing for companies to build brand awareness and consumer goodwill by making use of the conversational power of social. But Carnival is looking for a way to tap into its 251,000 Facebook fans (and counting) for transactional value, not just brand appeal, as is Delta with its 39,000 fans.

Moreover, there is a subtle but crucial difference in the approaches taken by Delta and Carnival. Delta aims to keep its customers on its Facebook app for the duration of the booking process. But Carnival directs consumers from its Facebook page to Carnival.com to complete a booking. Both approaches have their advantages. While Delta’s approach is more self-contained, Carnival can expose consumers to branded content on Carnival’s own turf. Consequently Carnival seeks to take more ownership of its social experience.

Forrester Research data suggest that both Carnival and Delta are making the right moves by building upon their Facebook pages. According to a July 28 report written by Henry Harteveldt, 26 million leisure travelers in the U.S. began using social media over the past two years. Seventy two percent of U.S. online travelers (nearly 100 million people) participate in social media at least once a month. In the report, “How Travel eBusiness Can Engage Conversationalists, the New Social Media Group,” Henry urges travel companies to add a booking engine to their social network pages.

Razorfish helped conceptualize, create, and design the Carnival Facebook app (a first of its kind in the cruise line industry).

USAA: kill your website to service customers


This post comes to you live from the second annual Forrester Research Customer Experience Forum, held at the Grand Hyatt in New York. The theme of the event is creating breakthrough customer experiences. During one of the afternoon sessions, Principal Analyst Paul Hagen hosts a panel on trends in creating customer experiences. He is joined by Janice W. Brown, manager, channel strategy and orchestration, FedEx Services; Kathleen Cattrall, vice president, branded customer experience, Time Warner Cable; and Neff Hudson, assistant vice president, enterprise member experience, USAA. Here are a few highlights.

Paul sets the stage by discussing the obvious signs that companies are getting more sophisticated about serving customers, with nearly half of companies surveyed by Forrester having a chief customer experience officer in place. He asks each panelist to describe a breakthrough that has taken customer experience to a new level at each person’s company.

Time Warner Cable: “nowhere to go but up.” In Kathleen Cattrall’s words, ‘There is nowhere to go but up” at Time Warner Cable when it comes to improving the customer experience. She describes how improving the customer experience has meant being creative and resourceful without a clear corporate mandate from on high. She started by simply asking her customers what her company needed to do better, and she talked with competitors’ customers. Doing so gave her scores of ideas to improve service. With that information, she went on a road show with field service representatives to inspire them to improve. Her road workshops included people in finance and engineering, not just the obvious candidates who touch the customer — because she saw the need to show as many people as possible how their jobs affect the customer in some way. Months later, the vast majority of the people she visited in her road show are doing their jobs differently and realize how their roles touch the customer.

FedEx: an executive mandate to improve. Janice W. Brown indicates that FedEx saw a mandate to improve service after seeing a drop in satisfaction and loyalty numbers. In her case, she operated with an executive mandate. Her job has been to tackle thorny issues like getting more employees to be customer advocates and to work with executives to effect real cultural change. She has spent an entire year just putting into place a program for identifying how FedEx can improve across multiple channels, and the year ahead will be about enacting improvements across channels.

USAA: using mobile to improve customer service: Neff Hudson says USAA focuses on the “small stuff,” not breakthroughs. USAA focuses on customer problems that intersect with the company’s business challenges. For instance, USAA realized it needed to address the business challenge of enabling more customers to perform personal transactions even though USAA lacks branch outlets. So USAA created a program called Deposit@Mobile, which allows members to use scanners at home to deposit checks. Since August 2009, USAA has done $5 million in revenue via an iPhone and Android application.

And what should customer service professionals be doing to improve service?

Time Warner Cable: get customers involved in product development. Kathleen Cattrall: Embed customer-centric thinking into your product development. Time Warner is figuring out how to take customer feedback and improve product development through a company certification program that affects how company engineers do their jobs.

FedEx: listen and respond to customers via social media. Janice Brown says that FedEx is more actively listening to what customers say about its service and then responding. But FedEx is also mining customer insight for longer-term trends in how customers perceive FedEx, not just to put out immediate fires.

USAA: websites are dead. Neff Hudson: Your website is dead. If you are not in the process of deconstructing your website and distributing your service across multiple channels, you are way behind. Don’t build new destination sites to service customers. Distribute your service across Twitter, Facebook, mobile apps, and anywhere else your customer is. “I have spent my whole life building websites,” Neff concludes. “Now I’m learning how to take them apart”

What do you think? Is Neff exaggerating, or does the future of your customer service reside elsewhere than your website?

How Dunkin’ Donuts keeps its customers happy


This post comes to you live from the second annual Forrester Research Customer Experience Forum 2010 at the Grand Hyatt in New York. The theme of event is creating breakthrough customer experiences. John Costello, chief global customer and marketing officer for Dunkin’ Brands, discusses how Dunkin’ Brands understands customer needs and develops a 360-degree approach to meeting those needs.

John oversees the marketing and brand efforts for Dunkin’ Donuts as well as Baskin Robbins, but the focus of his forum talk is Dunkin’ Donuts.

Essentially the Dunkin’ brand has remained consistent with what it stood for when the company was founded 60 years ago: coffee and donuts. The challenge: how do you keep a 60-year-old icon relevant to customers today? How do you honor your heritage while meeting consumers’ evolving needs, especially in a world where power has shifted to the consumer?

To Dunkin’, everything the customer touches defines the brand — events, social media, the web, advertising, signage, the in-store environment, the Dunkin’ community presence, and, of course, the product itself. Accepting the reality that every customer touch point defines the Dunkin’ brand is what drives the company’s approach to being customer-centric. The company follows six specific principles to satisfying its customers and keeping its brand relevant:

1. Make sure you understand who your best customers are. The Dunkin’ customer is a “regular person,” which is more of a state of mind than a demographic. Interestingly, Dunkin’ understands that its most loyal customers “cheat on Dunkin'” — they buy coffee elsewhere. Dunkin’ realizes that even with its superfans, the company always has room to grow and cannot afford to take them for granted. Its superfans, in his words, “cruise the world,” and if Dunkin’ is not obsessed about preserving their loyalty, they’ll lose them. So Dunkin’ does things like making it easy for repeat customers to easily auto-charge their Dunkin’ cards

2. Differentiate or disappear. Concentrate on what makes the Dunkin’ brand unique. If a long-lost cousin visited your company and asked, “Why should I choose your brand?” you had better be able to answer that question in one or two easy sentences. Dunkin’ is all about “getting you ready in the morning and keeping you running all day.” Dunkin’ Donuts not the place to hang out and surf the internet but rather a place to get fueled for the day and to return for a  quick refuel. Dunkin’ also realizes that its brand personality is important — customers like its down-to-earth, unpretentious personality. In essence, Dunkin’ is how the everyday folks who keep America running get fueled everyday. Hence, the Dunkin’ tagline, “America runs on Dunkin'” and Dunkin’s cheeky TV spots that poke fun at highfalutin-sounding coffee with esoteric names available at more upscale shops.

3. Embrace the 360-degree touchpoints. Look at every aspect of the customer experience and reinforce the most desirable ones everywhere. Dunkin’ is all about “fast, friendly, and helpful.” The company invites customer feedback on their in-store transaction receipts (customers are motivated to respond with the promise of a free donut). Dunkin’ takes that feedback to improve, with a focus on the in-store experience. Why? Because customers don’t interact with a store; they interact with store managers and their staff at the individual store level. Dunkin’ teams in-store act as the chief Dunkin’ brand ambassadors, even (or perhaps especially) with the drive-through experience, where Dunkin’ really needs to deliver on its promise of getting everyday folk fueled fast.

John also stresses that providing a 360-degree experience, at its core, is about offering products customers want — both the reliable products like glazed donuts and limited edition products. Of course Dunkin’ offers its core product of donuts, but the company has diversified its fare to include more breakfast options and beverages like the Dunkin’ Coolatta or triple chocolate muffins. Importantly, Dunkin’ is not abandoning its focus on delicious and indulgent foods like limited edition goodies for chocolate lovers during Chocolate Lovers month.

John also discusses how establishing a two-way dialogue with customers via social media has been central to a 360-degree approach to being customer-centric. Dunkin’ has used social media channels such as Facebook to Twitter as a customer feedback mechanism. And now Dunkin’ has gotten its customers involved in product creation. Through a social media contest, Dunkin’ Donuts got customers involved in designing a new bananas foster donut flavor that the company will soon produce

4. Think long term. Invest in your brand, not just your sales. It takes a long time to build a great brand. Doing so means investing into a consumer insights team that looks at customer needs over the long run. And relying on the customer feedback (as stated previously) to improve the guest experience.

5. Don’t just hire good people — hire people who are better than yourself. People who work for you and with you can do a lot more than you can do yourself. Assemble great teams who will delight the customer.

6. Have fun. Take the business seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously.

Interestingly, John concludes his talk by discussing how Dunkin’ is expanding across Asia, including Korea, where the brand is established already. So far the branding in Korea is more playful than in the States. An open question: as Dunkin’ goes global, what are the implications for the “America runs on Dunkin'” branding?

How Sprint Nextel turned around customer service


This blog post comes to you live from the second annual Forrester Customer Experience Forum 2010 at the Grand Hyatt in New York. The theme of the event is creating breakthrough customer experiences. Dan Hesse, CEO, Sprint Nextel, discusses how Sprint has improved it customer service rankings — a process he calls a “long, multi-year journey.”

With self-effacing humor, he states that he’s sure many in the audience are surprised to see Sprint talking at a conference on customer service. He admits that at the beginning of 2008, cost cutting at Sprint hurt the Sprint brand, damaged customer service, and cost the company revenue. So he helped Spring get focused on three simple objectives: improving the Sprint customer experience, improving the brand, and generating more revenue.

The key to Sprint’s improvement was embracing “The Magnificent 7” in 2008 — 7 customer service operating principles around which the company would rally. For example, Sprint would align compensation and rewards around clear metrics like improving customer satisfaction and reducing the volume of customer care calls. Sprint pledged to analyze religiously root causes of customer unhappiness and hold its managers accountable for the problem, be it a needlessly complicated rate plan or a dropped call.

Sprint also simplified its rate plans, which were causing confusion among customers and contributing to a perception that Sprint was not customer centric. And Sprint created a series of TV ads holding itself accountable for better customer service.

In short, Sprint made customer care the entire company’s business — not just a problem for its call center.

Within two years, Sprint reduced calls to its care center by more than 30 percent and overall improved its customer satisfaction scores. In 2010, Sprint was one of three firms that saw the biggest improvement in the Forrester Research Customer Experience rankings.

But “most imporoved does not cut it,” Dan concludes. He vows to make Sprint the leader in customer service — a journey that began in 2008 when one CEO aligned his entire company around simple improvement goals.

Forrester: online experiences define the brand


This blog post comes to you live from the second annual Forrester Research 2010 Customer Experience Forum at the Grand Hyatt in New York. Research Director Harley Manning sets the stage by asking, What exactly is customer experience? Answer: how customers feel about their interaction with your company. To that end, Forrester surveys 133 companies in 14 industries to create a Customer Experience Index that tracks how consumers feel about their customer experience.

The most recent index shows Barnes & Noble coming out on top with retailers in general scoring higher than other industries. At the low end of the scale: health insurance plan providers. And on average, companies who score high on the index also have customers who are willing to buy more products and services from them.

The key to improving one’s Customer Experience Index score: creating breakthrough experiences, the theme of the event.

The first speaker, Principal Analyst Ron Rogowski, discusses the connection between emotional experience design on websites and creating a great customer experience. His premise: online experiences define the brand. As John Thompson, senior VP at Best Buy said, customers are first experiencing the Best Buy brand online.

But there’s a problem: today’s web experiences leave an emotional void. They are, frankly, boring. The website for retailer Fry’s is a boring catalog of inventory, according to Ron. And Canon, which touts “moving photography” in its advertisements, provides a boring catalog of products on its website. In all, more than 90 percent of websites reviewed by Forrester fail to engage the consumer emotionally.

So how do you create interactions that engage consumers by catering to their emotional needs?

1. Address customers’ real goals. Understand customers’ latent needs through research. Anticipate and answer customers’ questions before they ask them, which is the key to creating an intuitive website. For instance Sallie Mae’s Education Investment Planner focuses tightly on goals like giving parents investment information during a time of uncertainty (e.g., planning and saving for family college needs). By using persona design to define customer goals, Sallie May created an online tool — a breakthrough customer experience — that gives parents a benchmark for knowing how they compare with their college savings program. The Sallie Mae online that meets an emotional need (worry and uncertainty about planning for college).

2. Develop a coherent personality. Lady Gaga and Elton John have talent — but they have personality, too. So what does personality mean to your brand? Personality is about being consistently recognizable. Aligning your online experience with your brand attributes. And, perhaps most importantly, adopting a human tone. Example: Progressive Insurance has created a personality for itself though the character of Flo, the fictional cashier on TV who also guides you through the Progressive website

3. Engage a mix of senses. The more senses you engage, the more memorable the experience. And how? Invest in the site’s production values. Provide a purposeful, tactile experience. Heighten the effect of your website with audio and video. Example: Armstrong Floors presents an attractive site that makes you want to hire the company to stain and finish your hardwood floors. Tazo Tea uses sound and motion to make you want to buy its tea products ( so long as you’re willing to install Flash 7).

Undertaking those three steps means making a more serious investment in rich media in your website budget.  Documenting your brand attributes and making those attributes meaningful to consumers. And orchestrating your customer’s emotional experience journey from awareness to consideration to purchase.

In short, make the experience its own reward.

RIP: 20th Century agencies


This blog post comes to you from the Forrester Marketing Forum 2010, where the theme is adaptive marketing.  During a break-out, Analyst Sean Corcoran discusses the changing agency-client relationship.

Sean asserts that the 20th-century agency model is dying.  Agencies focused on one-way advertising are passing away in an era when marketing has become tantamount to a two-way customer experience.  That said, history has shown agencies have always adapted, such as the transition from print-based to TV-driven advertising.

And agencies are now entering an era of adaptive marketing — a time in which consumers are empowered, social media is mainstream, and marketing has evolved from push- to pull-focused.  During the adaptive marketing era, marketers are taking advantage of media addressability and more effective data-driven decision making.  According to Larry Flanagan, CMO of MasterCard, “We are moving from decades of push strategy to a more holistic 360 consumer strategy.”

Agencies are struggling to adapt to this new era for many reasons. Among them:

1. Agencies are focused on campaigns rather than experiences.
2. They can talk but are not very good at listening.
3. Agencies are build for waterfall approaches to idea development instead of a more iterative approach.
4. Agencies treat customers as audiences rather than participants.
5. They are mostly “unbundled” — creating disparate skill sets.
6. Agencies have trouble mastering many new specialties at once.
7. Co-creation has torn down the creative wall.
8. Agencies have moved down the value chain and rarely distinguish themselves from each other.
9. Agencies can only move as fast as their clients will allow.

Meantime, marketers do not trust traditional agencies with digital, and interactive agencies often struggle to differentiate.

Which is all to say that no type of agency is perfect for the new era.  As a marketing leader from a healthcare firm told Forrester, “No one agency does it all well.”

So in an era of adaptive marketing, what do agencies need to do?

First, think of themselves as idea providers — ideas that can drive the creation of great customer experiences.  And ideas that are generated in iterative fashion.

Agencies also need to understand that interactions will drive future marketing success.  Paid media is shifting from the foundation of campaigns to the catalyst of experiences.

Finally, agencies need to become more intelligent — as in relying more on analytics to drive customer insight.

Among Sean’s predictions are that the interactive agency of record will disappear.  Some will become lead agencies; some will continue to be specialists; and others swallowed up by others.  So it’s decision time for interactive agencies: become a lead agency or become a specialist.

Meantime if you’re a marketer, Sean says it’s important to get your own adaptive marketing house in order before you think about your agencies, among other recommendations.  For more insight, contact Sean on Twitter or scorcoran@forrester.com.