Forrester CMO on Leading the Change Needed to Compete and Win in a Customer-Led Market

Forrester is an organisation which researches customer experience in the wider market and CX Network had the opportunity to sit down with their CMO to discuss the ins and outs of CX at Forrester itself.

As Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Forrester Research, Victor Milligan leads a global marketing organisation responsible for promoting and protecting the Forrester brand and converting customer insight into compelling and memorable client experiences.

He is an experienced senior marketing executive, having served as CMO at two previous companies, Nexage and Lavastorm Analytics. Prior to that, Victor was a Group Vice President & Senior Managing Partner for Gartner Consulting and ran the Global Industries group.

As the CMO of an organisation heavily focused on researching the ins and outs of customer experience, what is your involvement with the CX strategy at Forrester itself?

I lead the CX programme for Forrester. This is a cross-Forrester programme that is designed to understand and continuously improve our customers’ experiences as they traverse both human and digital touch points.

What has been your greatest customer engagement success during your time at Forrester so far? Can you detail how it has made an impact across all levels of the organisation?

Applying analytics to improve how we engage our prospects and clients. We were using email as a blunt instrument, but now we are taking a more nurture-driven approach where we are targeting based on behaviour and context, which is making a notable and positive impact. Like many organisations, we are adapting our operations and expect to dramatically broaden and improve our ability to use data to deliver quality, personalised experiences over time.

Traditionally the CMO role was purely marketing orientated, however this has evolved to incorporate customer experience. Where have you seen the greatest benefits?

I think the CMO role was changing before the acute market need to focus on CX. The CMO has shifted from being a brand executive to a business executive, prioritising initiatives based on P&L impact as much as the impact on brand equity. In that light, having CX in the CMO’s purview is a logical step – especially noting the strong correlation between CX performance and revenue. This is an efficient structure; I would argue that not having CX as part of core marketing priorities would be the more awkward and difficult path.

In what way is the digital disruption driving change in the way you approach customer experience at Forrester?

In one way Forrester is a publisher, and like other publishers we see the significant change in digital consumption habits. We are responding accordingly. On top of that, our clients discover research, receive services, and gain continuing insights regarding our different offerings through digital environments. We need to ensure those experiences are high-quality, consistent, and personalised.

You’ve said that businesses require a change of operating model to adjust to a customer-empowered market. What key steps should CX leaders be taking to be able to make this transformation within their organisation?

Driving improvement in experience is not simply asserting it through taglines or positioning – you have to do it. Customers’ expectations are rising and are informed by their "best" experiences from any industry. Whether that is fair or unfair is not the point – it is what your customers expect. And delivering against those rising expectations is unlikely to mean business as usual; the pressure from customers is likely to force meaningful changes in the operating model.

What do you believe will be the biggest trends impacting upon customer experience in 2016?

The most important dynamic is having organisations address the combined issues of magnitude and speed: the magnitude of operational change needed to deliver high-quality, consistent, and personalised experiences and the speed needed to make those changes to either maintain differentiation or catch-up to leaders that are already underway to a shift to customer-obsessed operations.

What ultimate piece of advice can you give your peers to help them enhance their strategies and deliver a memorable customer experience?

Well, I don’t know if it is advice or simply sharing what is on our collective plate. The CMO has the opportunity and, in most cases, the responsibility to lead the hard change needed to compete and win in a customer-led market. This was not our job before– but it is now. The good part of that is we can have a profound impact on the future of our business while also building a personal legacy.