In 2008, after nearly four years as an analyst on Forrester’s Customer Experience team, I left to explore the world of the Mad Men. I led the interaction design team at a top-20 advertising agency in Boston and, after a move to San Francisco, advised marketing agencies on things like their corporate strategies and go-to-marketing messaging.

While it was an exciting time for me, I kept coming back to a belief that I’ve held for years: A great customer experience is truly the best marketing.

And then I read Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness, the story of Zappos’ rise to one of the best-known (and, some could argue, most successful) customer-centric companies. I devoured the entire book, cover to cover, on a flight from JFK to SFO. I dog-eared pages and highlighted passages. I even ignored a really great in-flight episode of 30 Rock in order to keep reading. And as we pulled into the gate in San Francisco, I realized that I needed to return to my passion: customer experience. Ultimately, what really makes me happy is helping companies make their customers happy.

And so here I am. (Thanks, Tony!)

I’m thrilled to be back on Harley’s team and doing a job I love. Here are the types of things I’ll be exploring through my research:

  • Customer experience design. You may have read my 2007 report, “Desirable Online Experiences: Taking Web Sites Beyond Useful And Usable,” which looked at how companies were using the Web to connect with people in a more emotional and personal way. Now I’m taking that research to the enterprise. What do engaging, end-to-end customer experiences look and feel like? And what does it take for companies to create these experiences across touch points as diverse as the Web, physical store, and call center?
  • Customer experience organizations. My 2006 report, “The People Who Make Great Web Sites,” uncovered the skills, structure, and budgets of some of the day’s most effective Web organizations. Now I’m updating that research with a focus on enterprise customer experience organizations. What do these org structures look like, who’s on the team, and how do they make decisions that potentially impact the entire company?

Along the way, these two coverage areas will intersect with each other (what implications does the design of a new service have on organizational operations?) and with other topics like customer experience strategy and corporate culture. And yes, I may even have a thing or two to say about marketing.

Please reach out anytime if you have a question or just want to say hello!