How do customers feel about their experiences interacting with leading brands? Forrester, a leading independent research firm, analyzed responses from over 7,700 U.S. consumers, age 18 and older, who were asked three essential questions about 154 North American brands in 13 industries:
1. How enjoyable were they to do business with?
2. How easy were they to do business with?
3. How well did they meet your needs?
The answers were fascinating — and somewhat bracing.
The online survey took place during November 2010 and asked consumers to evaluate the brands based on their interactions with the companies over the previous 90 days. Forrester calculated "Customer Experience Index" (CxPi) scores for each brand as a result.
To calculate each brand's CxPi score, Forrester subtracted the percentage of the brand's customers who reported a bad experience from the percentage who reported a good experience for all three questions. The overall CxPi is an average of those three results.
We'll start with the bad news: The results were not promising for brands in general.
Only about one-third of brands earned "excellent" or "good" CxPi scores, with the remainder being rated "okay," "poor," or "very poor." Only six percent of the brands were rated "excellent." Eleven percent of the brands were rated "very poor."
Retailers and hotels were the two highest-ranking industries. Health insurance plans, TV service providers, and Internet service providers were the lowest rated.
Ten brands were deemed "excellent," and nine of those were retailers. In ranked order, the brands were: Borders, Barnes & Noble, Kohl's, Costco, Amazon, JC Penney, BJ's Wholesale Club, Target, Walgreens, and USAA (insurance/credit cards).
The top ten brands ranked "very poor" were: Virgin Mobile, AT&T (Internet), Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Time Warner Cable, Cigna, United Healthcare, Charter, Cablevision, and Comcast. (A few divisions of Blue Cross Blue Shield appeared individually in the top ten, but they were consolidated here.)
The Forrester report isn't just the bearer of bad tidings; it also offers advice for brands when it comes to improving the customer experience:
1. Define your customer experience strategy.
2. Focus on activities and processes that differentiate.
3. Build a customer-centric culture.
4. Use metrics to track your progress.
What do you think? What should brands do to enhance the customer experience and increase loyalty?