Well, this is a big moment — my 50th blog post. I just started a few months ago, but the uptick in readership has been fantastic. So let me start with by saying thank you to everyone who has been reading, linking to, writing about, and passing along my blog!
Rather than introducing something totally new to mark this milestone, I decided to go with a retrospective. TV series do this to get new audiences caught up with the plot line — why not do it with my blog?! So, here goes, a look back at some of my favorite posts from the first 49:
- My Manifesto: Great Customer Experience Is Free. This post lays out my argument that the need to improve customer experience today is as strong as the need to improve quality was in the 1980s. It highlights the following areas where the “great customer experience is free” movement is just like the “quality is free” movement: nobody owns it, it requires cultural change, it requires process change, it requires discipline, upstream issues cause downstream problems, employees are a key asset in the battle, and executive involvement is essential. But in the end, the payback will be off the charts. In a follow-up post called Great Customer Experience Is Free, Part II, I offer my observations that customer experience is critical for firms… but they aren’t enjoyable to work with… and they deliver poor experiences… because they lack customer experience discipline. Please join the Great Customer Experience Is Free movement!
- Experience-Based Differentiation. This is the name of a “Forrester Big Idea” report that I published in the beginning of this year. It’s been phenomenally successful in terms of its readership by Forrester clients and its impact on companies that read and internalize it. It is still the number one thing that I am asked to speak about. The concept, called “EBD” for short, is based on three principles: 1) Obsess about customer needs, not product features; 2) Reinforce brands with every interaction, not just communications; and 3) Treat customer experience as a competence, not a function. You can see an excerpt of a keynote speech about EBD that I gave at Forrester’s Finance Forum in this post: My Takes On YouTube.
- Five Disruptive Customer Experience Strategies. This post represents another highly-read Forrester research report. My research uncovered five different ways in which companies had successfully disrupted the status quo: 1) Ultrasimplicity; 2) Online infusion; 3) Service infusion; 4) Service amplification; and 5) Value repositioning. I’ve also written a couple of posts that provide examples of these strategies: WaMu Heads For Simplicity: Follow! and NetFlix Ends Email Support; Tries Another Disruptive Strategy. I’ve found this to be a very effective tool for companies to use at off-sites. How? Breakout teams look at each one of these strategies as either an opportunity and a threat.
- Lessons Learned From Chief Customer Officers. Yes, this was my previous post. It makes the “best of” list because I believe that any customer experience transformation effort needs dedicated leadership. This came out loud and clear when I interviewed executives with responsibility for customer experience (we generically call these execs Chief Customer/Experience Officers or CC/EOs). I wrote a post about one of those interviews: The Colorado Rockies Embraces Its Guests. The need for leadership can also be seen in the post Words Of Wisdom: Picasso On Organizational Change. But organizations should not just blindly appoint this type of an executive. I tried to frame the decision in a post called Chief Customer Officer: To Do, Or Not To Do? As one CC/EO said: “It takes massive support from senior management. This role can destruct careers.”
- Don’t Let Profits Replace Purpose. I wrote this post after reading about the role that founders have played in some successful companies. It’s clear to me that a founder often has a different set of characteristics than “professional managers.” In what ways? He/she often has both a clear picture of where he/she wants the firm to go PLUS the passion to constantly evangelize that vision. This clear and constant communication can align everyone across the company about what’s important. The bottom line of that post stated: Founders help companies focus on something that is much more aligning than profits – a raison d’être. In related posts, I noted that organizations that have lost their souls in Firms Need Some Soul Searching (there’s a self-help video in that one) and quoted from Mahatma Gandhi in Words Of Wisdom: Gandhi On Sustainability.
- Lessons Learned From 1,001 Web Site Reviews. The final spot goes to my inaugural blog post on June 15, 2007 in which I looked back at more than 1,000 Web Site Reviews that Forrester had completed. The methodology we follow is called an “expert review” which is where a trained analyst attempts to complete a specific goal as-if he/she was a target customer. We then evaluate the experience against 25 Web Site experience criteria (we also have criteria for other channels like email, phone, kiosks, and blogs as well as for experiences that cross over channels). This post makes the list because it was the first to mention Scenario Design. For almost a decade, the most powerful, yet seemingly simple piece of advice that we’ve been giving clients is to always ask — and answer — 3 questions (the foundation of Scenario Design): Who are your users? What are their goals? How can you help them achieve those goals? I revisited the importance of Scenario Design in a recent post called Web 2.0 (a.k.a. Web And Weberer).
The bottom line: I hope that you’ve enjoyed the first 50!
You can download this post (along with all of the posts referenced above) with this link: The Best Of Customer Experience Matters, Volume 1 (.pdf). So you can print it out and read it anywhere.