Forrester announces a new Customer Experience Cloud, plus two acquisitions to power it

Research firm Forrester is announcing today that it is evolving its CX (customer experience) Index into a real-time CX Cloud, propelled by two acquisitions also unveiled today.

One of the new purchases is FeedbackNow, which makes physical buttons and accompanying monitoring software to assess customer experience. Its Smiley Boxes populate airports, hotels and other public-facing establishments, initially in Europe but now entering the US market.

When walking through an airport terminal, for instance, an airline customer might see such a physical box with its request to give a quick vote on overall airport experience: a green button for “good,” a red button for “bad,” and a yellow button for “neutral.” FeedbackNow’s backend software assesses responses based on related factors, such as time of day, location or sequences of negative responses.

The other acquisition is GlimpzIt, a San Francisco-based AI-driven analytics engine that will be utilized to reveal insights from FeedbackNow data and other sources. Deal terms for the acquisitions were not made public.

Forrester’s previously existing CX Index employed online surveys of customers of more than 600 brands worldwide, in order to rank the companies across various dimensions of customer experience.

Forrester CMO Victor Milligan told me the Index will continue as part of the Cloud, which differs from the Index because it adds real-time data via FeedbackNow; it can process unstructured data like social comments via GlimpzIt’s platform; and it can offer a higher level of automated insights through the addition of GlimpzIt’s AI.

These are Forrester’s first two acquisitions to help build the new CX Cloud, he noted, but may not be the last.

The biggest evolutionary step and competitive advantage, Milligan said, is that the CX Cloud — expected to launch by Q4 — will operate in real time, so that companies can immediately determine what needs to be done when faced with issues that impact customer experience, like poor service.

If data is not available in real time, he said, the Cloud will make predictions based on available data. The insights might be granular, about some specific customer service issue, or they may be macro, such as a perceived issue with the brand’s overall interactions with customers.

Like many other companies, Forrester has pegged customer experience as the key to brands’ health. It has found that companies whose customer experience gets high ratings increase their revenue at “twice the rate of those with poorly rated experiences.”’

In a blog post today, Forrester CEO George Colony noted that “most companies are stuck at ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ levels” in his firm’s CX Index, and no company received a score of ‘excellent.’”

“Something is missing,” he wrote, and added:

Experiences that are constructed and then left to run are no longer good enough for consumers. Retrospective surveys and “help us improve” pleas are outmoded at best, and annoying at worst.

What’s missing is real time. Companies won’t stand out unless they can monitor and improve experiences on a minute-to-minute basis — and perfect themselves through a continuous Darwinian process of adaptation. If there is no hot water in room 3424 at the Hilton, a guy with a wrench knocks on the door in three minutes to solve the problem. If you don’t like the Fidelity rep who’s helping you on the phone, the rep is replaced immediately — “Hello. John is gone, my name is Janice, and I will be helping you from now on.”

About The Author

Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.