It’s finally here. That time of year when seemingly half of the federal workforce flees DC for a well-deserved vacation. It’s a magical time for those of us who stay behind: Less traffic shortens our commutes, the Starbuck’s and food truck lines are shorter, and fewer people at meetings means more decisions get made.
But the feds heading out for vacation are happy, too. They hope to return refreshed and re-energized. This year, I hope they will also come back inspired with new ideas for improving the federal customer experience (CX). To help them find that inspiration, I’ve put together this list of travel tips:
In scanning through my O’Reilly Data Newsletter today, I noticed A Healthy Dose of Data, an MIT Sloan case study on the data and analytics culture at Intermountain, a healthcare network that runs 22 hospitals and 185 clinics. The study is definitely worth the read. It reviews the history of data use at Intermountain, which began way before the “big data” craze of recent years. In fact, it was back in the 1950s that one of the Intermountain cardiologists, Homer Warner, began to explore clinical data to understand why some heart patients experienced better outcomes than others. He went on to become known as the “father of medical informatics – the use of computer programs to analyze patient data to determine treatment protocols,” and with colleagues designed and launched their first decision-support tool.
The case study goes on to describe how Intermountain has cultivated a strong data and analytics culture. Over time – Rome was not built in a day, as they say – they established data maturity across the organization by investing in the capacity (new tools and technologies), developing the competencies (new skills and processes) and finally spreading the culture (awareness, understanding and best practices) of data and analytics. Their analytical approach brought results – fewer surgical infections, more effective use of antibiotics, less time in intensive care etc – contributing to lower costs, better medical outcomes, and overall patient satisfaction.
Who are your priority customers, and how do you serve them? Classic brand and customer experience theory says to focus on the “best fit customer” to drive relevance, yet it is rare to find a case where pleasing only one customer type can help achieve your goals. Case in point: When I took this position at Forrester, I started flying . . . a lot. Yet my 25,000 miles in three months on a certain airline didn’t align with its preset qualification period, so I didn’t receive status, nor am I recognized in any way when I fly with this airline. That lack of recognition undermines loyalty, yet I’m precisely the type of customer whose loyalty it should be eager to gain.
This airline puts emphasis and resources into maintaining an improved experience for its defined priority customer — existing loyalty program members — and doesn’t consider the experience for attracting new customers like me into the fold. While it has a terrific app, the rest of its relatively generic flying experience (including Wi-Fi on only one of 10 flights I’ve taken) does little to motivate me, or any business traveler, to choose this airline over another brand.
When Portfolio Thinking Comes Into Play
It’s true that by trying to be all things to all people, you become nothing to anyone. Imagine Apple trying to appeal to both innovators and technology laggards or Southwest Airlines trying to cater to both bargain and luxury fliers. It doesn’t work. Good brands have the courage to stand for something.
Red Hat held its 2015 summit last week in Boston. One of the most important announcements was the general availability of version 3 of OpenShift. After my discussion with Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO of Red Hat, as well as other executives, partners and, clients, I believe that Red Hat has made a strategic move and is taking the lead in enterprise-class container solutions for hybrid cloud enablement. This is because:
Red Hat has an early-mover advantage in platform refactoring.OpenShift and Cloud Foundry, two major open source PaaS platforms, both started refactoring with container technology last year. The developers of Cloud Foundry are still working hard to complete the platform’s framework after implementing Diego, the rewrite of its runtime. But OpenShift has already completed its commercial release, with two major replacements around containers: It replaced Gears, its original homegrown container model, with Docker and replaced Broker, its old orchestration engine, with Kubernetes.
However, today's B2B environment is more complex, crowded, and competitive than it was in 2013. B2B buyers now insist on an "Amazon-like" customer experience with real-time interaction, extensive price and inventory transparency, and robust guided selling. B2B companies are still plagued by both internal and external channel conflict, which in many cases is impeding their forward progress with digital. And not only are offline companies moving online, but omnichannel competitors in adjacent categories and pure-play online sites are entering select markets as well.
It was against this backdrop that Peter and I evaluated several top B2B Commerce vendors. We found once again that hybris (an SAP company), IBM, Oracle Commerce, and Intershop led the pack. But this time around, Insite joined their ranks. NetSuite returned as a strong contender and was joined in that category by eBay Enterprise (Magento). New to both the B2B commerce space and our Wave evaluation is CloudCraze, a company offering eCommerce as a native application within the Salesforce environment.
As Peter Sheldon outlines in detail in his blog post:
We’re launching our quantitative research into digital business for 2015, and I’d like to capture your perspectives in this year’s study.
Last year we started a detailed research study into digital business and published numerous reports on our findings and insights for business executives. This year we have partnered with Odgers Berndtson to help field our digital business survey to business executives. And as we did last year, we’re also extending the survey to our clients and social media followers.
The survey only takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete … the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee or tea! (OK that may be a stretch … but you can easily complete it while enjoying a cuppa.)
“Once you scale beyond a couple contributors and teams, it gets messy.”
– Content marketing leader at Intel
That’s as succinct a summary as you’ll get for the pains of contemporary content marketing. Even as marketers flock to it, experienced practitioners know of content marketing’s side effect: An unmitigated mess, with lots of people producing piles of content all at the same time, all over the world.
Cue the Content Marketing Platform, or CMP. CMPs emerged to bring order to this cross-channel, cross-organizational, cross-brand, cross-geography, cross-everything content mess, by putting all the people working on content in to a common and shared space.
[Editorial note: Forrester publishes approx. 50-60 wave reports per year, or about one per week on average. Of those, only about a dozen each year are entirely new. This is one of the latter.]
The CMPs assessed in this report – Contently, DivvyHQ, Kapost, NewsCred, Oracle, Percolate, PublishThis, RebelMouse, and Skyword – can cite content marketing giants as part of their client list like: GE, Pepsi, Marriott, BlackRock, IBM, Dell, Diageo, Unilever, MasterCard, and Colgate-Palmolive. And they are picking up new ones relentlessly; as a group, they’re doubling software revenue year after year.
To pin down exactly what CMPs do, here is Forrester’s definition:
Today Amazon launched full force in Mexico with items ranging from baby products to electronics to sporting goods—for the past two years, the company has sold only eBooks on its localized site in the country. Why Mexico now?
Mexico’s eCommerce market has risen on global brands’ priority lists. When it comes to eCommerce, Mexico is the India of Latin America: a small, early-stage market that has been overshadowed by rapid eCommerce growth in a much larger neighbor (Brazil in the case of Latin America, China in Asia). However, Mexico’s time has come. As Brazil’s economy has slowed to a halt, Mexico’s continues to grow—at the same time, the cost and complexity of operating in the Brazilian market has become apparent, leading many US and European brands to turn their attention north to the region’s second largest economy. In 2014 alone, Orange, Zara, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Williams-Sonoma all rolled out eCommerce offerings in Mexico.
Driven by a variety of different categories, the online retail market is growing rapidly. We often talk about eCommerce markets evolving in four phases (see graphic below). Mexico has very much followed this trajectory. Early-stage online purchases were largely in the travel sector—then as consumers started to make physical product purchases online, they gravitated to categories such as consumer electronics and computer hardware. Going forward, these categories will continue to grow but they will be augmented by later-stage categories like apparel, beauty and grocery. We expect Mexico’s total online retail market to grow by a CAGR of 19% between 2014-2019, reaching almost $7 billion by 2019.
Each Congress considers over 10,000 bills, and virtually none of them ever explicitly focus on customer experience (CX). However, some bills do have implications for federal CX. And although just 3% of bills ever become law, federal CX advocates should stay informed of proposals from the start. That way, we can suggest improvements, help good ideas become law, and plan for what happens when they do.
That’s why I’m starting this new weekly blog series. Every week while Congress is in session, I’ll take a look at a few new bills that could affect federal CX and offer my initial thoughts on each. I hope my views start a weekly conversation about which bills seem most promising for federal CX and the overall role Congress should play in improving the federal customer experience.
Let’s begin by taking a look at two bills that House leadership recently assigned to committee:
A few months ago, I had a horrible customer experience around test-driving a new luxury car. The company's marketing department invested a lot of money on different campaigns to get me to make an appointment for a test drive. They succeeded, But once I got to the showroom for the appointment, the experience was a complete 180-degree turn from the red-carpet marketing experience. In fact, I was told they were too busy for a test drive and they requested I come back in two weeks. Needless to say, the experience was a #BIGFAIL on the part of the carmaker.
Contrast this with the experience I had while visiting a Tesla Motors store recently. While I was in the store browsing different car models and speaking with a Tesla spokesperson, a steady stream of existing Tesla owners popped into the store to rave about how great the brand was and how much they loved driving their cars.