What’s On My 2008 Research Agenda?

I often get asked about my research plan for 2008, so I thought this would be a good venue to discuss it. As many of you know, I work for Forrester Research, so my research reports can only be fully seen by Forrester clients (don’t worry, we’ve got room for you if you want to become a client!). But the insights from my research definitely trickle into this blog.

Given that my research had the highest readership at Forrester in 2007, I am going to assume that my current agenda is mostly on-target. As P. L. Travers said:

A writer is, after all, only half his book. The other half is the reader and from the reader the writer learns.

So before I talk about next year, let’s look at what Forrester clients are reading. Here are my 20 most-read pieces of research in 2007:

  1. The Financial Services Survival Guide
  2. Topic Overview: North American Retail Financial Services
  3. Obstacles To Customer Experience Success
  4. Credit Card Cross-Channel Experience, 2007
  5. Do Financial Institutions Meet Customer Needs?
  6. Consumers Don’t Enjoy Financial Services
  7. Social Networking Sites Need A Usability Boost

(Note: The Gen Y Design Guide, which was #27 on the list,
was only published this month; so it is climbing fast)

Here’s My 2008 Research Agenda

My core focus is to dramatically improve the customer experiences that large organizations deliver. This encompasses three core components: 1) Insights into what drives consumers; 2)  Best practices for designing good experiences; and 3) Enterprisewide programs for creating a customer-centric DNA

Based on these core elements and the response to my 2007 research, here are the research themes that I’m planning to focus on in 2008:

  • Experience-Based Differentiation (EBD). This has really resonated with the firms that I’ve been working with (not to mention being the most-read research). EBD requires firms to take multi-year enterprisewide transformation journeys. So I will focus on best practices across the three principles of EBD and identify ways for firms to measure their progress towards EBD.   
  • Voice of the customer (VoC). This is an element of EBD, but I’m breaking it out separately since it is so important. I’ll look into how firms can better infuse the VoC into their efforts. This will include some more scrutiny of the debate about NetPromoter.
  • Chief customer/experience officer. This is a generic name we use for a senior executive that is responsible for customer experience across normal organizational boundaries. Since EBD requires extensive leadership, this is a key role within firms. I will continue to examine the tools and techniques that can help these executive succeed.
  • Customer experience strategy. I was surprised by the enormous popularity of my document on disruptive customer experience strategies. So I’ll revisit that topic to provide more examples of how to be disruptive. And I may even introduce some new disruptive strategies.
  • Cross-channel experience design. I’ll keep looking at multi-channel best practices. Several other members of Forrester’s customer experience research team and I will be publishing our annual “Best & Worst Of” series that looks at Web, phone, email, IVR, and agent experiences across 4 industries. I will also continue to work with Adele Sage on Web-Store experiences and with Vidya Lakshmipathy on out-of-box experiences.
  • The Customer Experience Index (CxPi). I definitely plan to issue redo CxPi in 2008. In addition, I’ll be taking a closer look at that data to drive even deeper insights into how customer experience drives consumer behavior.
  • Designing for Gen Y. Our Gen Y research took off at the end of the year. So I will continue to work with Ross Popoff-Walker to help companies apply the principles we defined in the “Gen Y Design Guide.”
  • Financial services. Although my research cuts across industries, I will continue to “minor” in consumer financial services — paying closer attention to customer experience at banks, credit card issuers, investment firms, and insurers.

Here are some research reports that are already in the works for early next year (subject to change):

  • The Business Impact Of Customer Experience. I’ll be analyzing our large-scale consumer data to determine the extent to which customer experience is connected with customer loyalty.
  • Web-Store Experiences: Electronics Retailers. We’re evaluating the Web-to-store and store-to-Web experiences for 4 large electronics retailers to showcase problems and best practices.
  • The State Of Experience-Based Differentiation. I’ll analyze results from a survey of firms that took the Experience-Based Differentiation self-test to see where firms are on the EBD journey. The data will be coming back from the field soon.
  • Online Consumers Go Across Channels. Olga Melnikova and I will analyze consumer data to find out what cross-channel activities are prevalent when consumers shop and get service online.
  • The Strength Of Customer Relationships. I’ll examine how customer loyalty varies across 9 industries as well as looking at how loyalty differs across large firms within each of those industries. 
  • Satisfaction With Web, Phone, and In-Person Experiences. I’ll examine how satisfied consumers are with different types of experience across 9 industries as well as looking at how satisfaction differs across large firms within each of those industries. 
  • Young Gen Yers: Fun-Loving, Social, And Wired. We’re taking a look at the differences between Younger Gen Y (18-22 year olds) and Older Gen Y (23-27 year olds) consumers.

The bottom line: I’m looking forward to this research — hopefully you are too!

Written by 

I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

4 thoughts on “What’s On My 2008 Research Agenda?”

  1. I just found this blog and love the stuff you are talking about. Thanks for sharing excerpts from the research in the CEM world – my favorite world. I am trying to find more businesses that care about the customer experience and this looks like a good place to do find those organizations.

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