Forrester’s Consumer Forum – Humanizing Digital Experience

Here’s an interesting post that I picked-up from the Forrester’s Consumer Forum 2006 blog:

Experience-based Differentiation

The premise of experience-based differentiation (EBD), as Bruce explained it, is that "Most large companies cannot emulate Disney and Starbucks. What’s more achievable?" Just as Angelina’s lips wouldn’t work on Paris Hilton’s face, taking a particular feature that works in a particular environment and applying it out of context won’t work–EBD is not about implementing pieces of what other companies are doing.

Context for EBD

What is the state of customer experience?

  • Consumers are tougher to satisfy
  • They are less likely to agree that "Advertising helps me decide what to buy"
  • "Price is more important than brand names" up
  • "I would pay more for products that save me time and hassles" down

What’s going on?

  • The Internet increases price transparency
  • Firms focus on efficiency and cutting costs
  • Customer experience (CXP) is "bad or just blah"

What are some strategies for EBD?


  • Radically reduce offerings and deliver critically important subset of features   
  • Examples: JetBlue, ING Direct

Online infusion

  • Redefine offering by incorporating interactive features into the core product
  • Examples: Netflix, Disney

Mobile Value repositioning

  • Getting your customers to think about you differently
  • UMPQUA Bank (treats banking like a retail environment, kid-friendly), Post cereal (–can’t compete with Kellogg’s for marketing budget, but innovative integration between store, box, and online)

What guidelines should I follow for EBD?

  • Obsess about customer needs, not product features
  • Clearly identified target customer segments
  • Customer insights drawn from ethnographic and qual research
  • Reinforce brands with every interaction, not just communications
  • Brand is well-defined and communicated to customers as a set of values Westpac ("You said…Our goals")–"Ask once effort"
  • CXP as competence, not a function Execs are involved, not just "bought-in"
  • Employees are engaged in, not mandated into, the process Pret A Manger–employees vote on hiring
  • Drives continues improvement efforts

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