The Data Digest: Chatbots Can’t Fully Replace Humans Just Yet

Kristopher Arcand
Customer service departments in all industries are increasing their use of chatbots, and we will see usage rise even higher in the next year as companies continue to pilot or launch their own versions of the rule-based digital assistant. What are chatbots? Forrester defines them as autonomous applications that help users complete tasks through conversation.
 
While Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data reveals that 60% of US online adults already use online messaging, voice, or video chat services, there are challenges to widespread adoption. We reached out to our ConsumerVoices Market Research Online Community members to better understand consumer impressions of chatbots and found that our respondents had a difficult time identifying clear benefits to interacting with them. Many prefer to communicate with a representative who can show real empathy, address more complex needs, and offer them assurance.
 
Earlier this month, I attended the Qual360 2017 conference in Washington, D.C., where chatbots were a hot topic in both qualitative research and customer experience. Speakers highlighted the opportunity of chatbots while warning about their shortcomings. For example:
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Check Out The New Forrester Wave™ Of Leading DRaaS Providers

Naveen  Chhabra

I am pleased to announce that the new Forrester Wave™: Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service Providers, Q2 2017 for infrastructure and operations professionals is now live! This Wave evaluation uncovered a market in which four providers — Sungard Availability Services, Bluelock, IBM, and iland — all emerged as Leaders, although their strengths differ. Another five providers — HPE Enterprise Services (now DXC Technology), Recovery Point, Plan B, Daisy, and TierPoint — are Strong Performers. NTT Communications is a Contender.

To evaluate these vendors, we developed a comprehensive set of criteria in three high-level buckets: current offering, strategy, and market presence. The criteria and their weightings are based on past research and user inquiries. In addition to typical user demands, this Forrester Wave™ evaluation also has a few thought-provoking criteria such as the provider’s capability to deliver security services, real-time views through a readiness score, automated change management, and orchestration-led enterprise application recovery.

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Don't Alienate Loyal Customers: How To Step Up Your Email Game

Emily Collins

In the realm of multichannel customer communications, email is still king. It’s the easiest to send, it’s inexpensive and it’s the channel on which most marketers rely to connect with all kinds of customers. Email marketing is ingrained and inexpensive, but as a result, many marketers abuse it, defaulting to a routine batch-and-blast approach. In 2015 alone, U.S. online users received 3.7 trillion emails. Today’s email practices fail loyal customers because they treat everyone the same way and struggle to deliver basic relevance.

Over-emailing is a persistent problem, and marketers face cultural inertia trying to get over the notion that if they email enough, the customer will eventually take action. One incremental email for a thousand customers may only cost you a single dollar, but the emotional value given up from an annoyed customer will cost you in future purchases and in investment needed to rebuild a loyal customer relationship from scratch. In essence, the long-term investment in building a relationship with loyal customers is compromised because of a short-sighted push for conversion.

Marketers can’t afford to alienate loyal customers. After all, those customers are the ones who want to engage with you in the first place. According to Forrester’s Consumer Technographics data, 58% of loyalty program members subscribe to a brand’s email list, compared with just 28% of consumers overall. It’s time for a reboot.

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Brands On Social Crisis: "The Sky Is Falling!"

Jessica Liu
Much ink has been spilled over United Airlines' latest public incident and social media's role in rapidly spreading video of a passenger being dragged off an airplane. Today's consumers are more polarized than ever and increasingly expressing their opinions and showing their own values in the way they spend their money. Brands worry about making missteps on social media and falling out of favor, prompting them to ask: "How can my brand respond to a social crisis?" In reality, the question they should be asking is: "How can my brand plan for any social crisis so that when it hits, our response is clear and automatic?"
 
Navigating today's social environment requires returning to crisis management basics. Brands with established and rehearsed crisis management plans — no matter the channel — will rise above the fray. In our latest Forrester report, "Social Crisis Management: Get Back To Basics," we discuss social crisis management 101:  
 
  • Let your brand pillars be your guide. Your brand's values should be the foundation for how your brand behaves in all situations, including on social media. Sure, brand values can be malleable but they should be strong enough to prepare you for worst-case scenarios. 
  • Document your tolerance for brand risk. Companies must also have a stated and widely-known policy for brand risk, such as a willingness to take chances with brand reputation or a threshold for negative publicity. 
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Demise of OpenStack Innovation Center does not mean demise of OpenStack

Paul Miller

The ever-dependable Barb Darrow at Fortune reported late last week that the OpenStack Innovation Center (OSIC) is to shut down. Cue wailing, gnashing of teeth, and portents of doom. But this may not be quite so bad as it appears, because the OpenStack Innovation Center isn’t nearly so critical to the open source cloud computing project as its name might imply.

Before I joined Forrester I used to post a short thought (almost) every day, commenting on some piece of news that caught my interest. The last of these, on 24 July 2015, was concerned with the then-new OpenStack Innovation Center.

I was unimpressed.

You see, the OpenStack Innovation Center isn’t an initiative of the OpenStack Foundation. Despite the name, it was only a joint initiative of two contributors to the OpenStack project - Intel and (OpenStack co-founder) Rackspace. They set up some clusters, for developers to test code. And they did some work to make OpenStack more enterprise-ready. Both efforts were useful, for sure. But both of these things were already happening in plenty of other places.

To call this useful but far-from-unique contribution the OpenStack Innovation Center seemed - to me - unwise. It almost - to me - smacked of hubris. It was a bit silly. It was another example of marketing spin far exceeding any discernible reality on the ground.

Now? It seems an own-goal that the Foundation and its backers might so easily have side-stepped.

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Engage Customers With Mobile Wallet Marketing

Xiaofeng Wang

Forrester predicts that the future of mobile wallets will go far beyond mobile payments. In the West, this vision is still a work in progress. However, Chinese digital juggernauts Alipay and WeChat have morphed their mobile wallets into rich customer engagement platforms. My latest report, “Engage Customers With Mobile Wallet Marketing,” tells what global players can learn from Asia’s digital leaders.

Alipay and WeChat show marketers the future of mobile wallets. While mainstream Western mobile wallets primarily focus on payments, pioneer mobile wallets in China have taken aggressive steps and become powerful customer engagement tools with innovative features — such as WeChat’s social gifting and Alipay’s augmented reality (AR) coupons and red packets. Their mobile wallet innovations span the customer life cycle (see figure).

The mobile wallet of the future is closer than you think. Market-entry obstacles like different business cultures, consumer behaviors, and regulations make it unlikely that Alipay and WeChat will operate directly in other markets beyond targeting Chinese travelers. However, the successful marketing use cases developed on Alipay and WeChat Wallet will inspire third-party players like Apple and PayPal to morph their mobile wallets into more powerful customer engagement platforms. In the next few years, we expect to see that:

  • Emerging mobile wallets will develop features like Alipay and WeChat. We expect mobile wallet innovations to happen more quickly in emerging markets with less legacy and competition. Paytm in India is a good example.
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Nature or Nurture? Culture As A Cornerstone Of Global Branding

Dipanjan Chatterjee

The Earl of Greystoke would have grown up in an idyllic English manor, sipping tea and munching on clotted cream biscuits, were it not for a rather unfortunate turn of events that left him orphaned in equatorial Africa, being raised by a she-ape. At the heart of Edgar Rice Burroughs' tales of Tarzan, which have captivated audiences for over 100 years, lies an elemental question: what makes us who we are – nature or nurture?

In my last blog post (Marketing's Dirty Little Secret), I discussed the biology of behavior and how we are wired to ride the express-lane for decision making. This is an area of investigation that is gathered much steam, including work done by Forrester (see How People Choose by Shar VanBoskirk). This interest in consumer neuroscience has led us to another intriguing area of inquiry: How do we account for cultural context in the biology of behavior? How does nurture shape the biological nature of our decision making?

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A One-Year I&O Transformation

Milan Hanson

Back when I worked in I&O we weren’t very popular. Not personally, mind you, but as a team. Why? Because we seldom satisfied user requests quickly, and sometimes not at all.  We were the defenders of stability, resistant to change.  Just maintaining the technology every day - “keeping the lights on” - took a lot of manual effort.  We chased down a lot of defects, and then we struggled to get fixes created and put into production. Sometimes the fix created a worse problem. It wasn’t a lot of fun, the pressure was grueling, and one by one we moved on to other jobs.

So today when I tell clients about transforming I&O from an under-appreciated cost center to a respected strategic advisor, I understand their skepticism. What does it take? For starters:

  • You have to change the monitoring and analytics technology.
  • You have to change the attitudes of the people within I&O.
  • You have to change the perception of I&O across the organization.

Those are not small changes, and cultural changes move especially slowly. Or do they?

The I&O team at Dixons Carphone, a UK technology retailer, transformed in a year. Yes, one year. With a motto of “say yes more,” Dixons Carphone I&O went all-in on customer focus and agile operations:

  • Rather than using a lengthy RFP process, monitoring technology proven effective in one business unit was extended across the organization.
  • Rather than focusing on technology health, the focus was shifted to customer experience.
  • Rather than focusing solely on the needs of consumer customers, attention was also given to the needs of internal users, line-of-business managers, and executives.
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Is Business Intelligence (BI) Market Finally Maturing? Forrester Three Big BI Market Predictions

Boris Evelson

No. The buy side market is nowhere near maturity and will continue to be a greenfield opportunity to many BI vendors. Our research still shows that homegrown shadow IT BI applications based on spreadsheets and desktop databases dominate the enterprises. And only somewhere between 20% and 50% of enterprise structured data is being curated and available to enterprise BI tools and applications.

The sell side of the market is a different story. Forrester’s three recent research reports are pointing to a highly mature, commoditized and crowded market. That crowded landscape has to change. Forrester is making three predictions which should guide BI vendor and BI buyer strategies in the next three to five years.

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Uber....Pepsi....The Ringling Brothers Circus..... Our Values based analysis...

Henry Peyret

Three very different brands with an unfortunate commonality: Each has recently incurred the wrath of a growing segment that Forrester calls the values-based consumer.

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