Good, consistent customer service inspires a strong sense of brand loyalty, but all it takes is one bad experience to break that bond.
The quality of customer experience (CX) has worsened, according to Forrester’s new 2017 U.S. Customer Experience Index, which ranked 314 brands across 21 industries in the U.S. based on a survey of over 118,000 U.S. adult customers.
The survey found that of the 314 brands measured in the CX Index, 49 lost points and 21 of those dropped by at least five points, with two (21st Century Insurance and the Bureau of Consular Affairs) losing more than 10, marking a significant decline in CX across the board.
In total, 24 brands gained points, but only three of those improved by at least five points and none gained more than 10. These numbers are in stark contrast with Forrester’s 2016 survey, which saw only 11 brands decline while 58 improved – of which 28 gained at least five points and two improved by 10.
Additionally, the number of brands in the ‘excellent’ category fell to zero and the percentage of scores in the ‘good’ category sank from 17 per cent to 16 per cent, while the percentage of brands with ‘poor’ scores rose 3 per cent to 23 per cent since the 2016 CX Index.
Index highlights for tech companies
Amazon and Google remained the top two brands within the Mobile Device Manufacturers category, while Asus climbed into the third position from number five in 2016. Samsung stayed at number four, while Apple rose from seventh to fifth on the list. Amazon was the only brand to reach the ‘good’ category, while the other top five were ranked ‘okay’. The rest of the top 10 includes Motorola, Dell, Microsoft and/or Microsoft Lumia, HTC, and LG.
In the PC Manufacturers Index, Google jumped from third in 2016 to the top spot this year despite an ‘okay’ rating, followed by Samsung and then Apple, which fell from number one last year to third in 2017. HP saw the largest increase, moving from 10th in 2016 to fourth in this year’s Index, and Asus completes the top five after dropping from the fourth spot. Gateway, Lenovo, Dell, Toshiba, and Acer round out the top 10.
Four types of brands
With the absence of leaders in CX, the Index noted there are four types of brands:
- Languishers – the ones that rise high in the rankings quickly, but then stall. Languishers make up about 13 per cent of brands on the Index.
- Lapsers – the brands that rise and then fall back. Lapsers account for around 17 per cent of brands.
- Locksteppers – the brands that move up and down with the pack and remain relatively on par with their competitors. Approximately 43 per cent of those brands on the 2017 Index are considered Locksteppers.
- Laggards – the brands that have never really improved their CX and have remained at the bottom of the Index. Laggards make up close to 27 per cent of brands ranked.
How can companies achieve excellent CX?
Brands that want to break away from the pack and improve their CX should focus on emotion, according to the Index report.
“How an experience makes customers feel has a bigger influence on their loyalty to a brand than effectiveness or ease in nearly every industry,” it says. “Brand performance in the U.S. CX Index, 2017 reflects this: Elite brands [highest-performing brands] provided an average of 17 emotionally positive experiences for each negative experience; the lowest-performing 5 per cent of brands provided only two emotionally positive experiences for each negative experience.”
Positive emotions driving CX include: appreciation, confidence, delight, happiness, respect, and feeling valued.
“The positive impact of these emotions on loyalty is clear and strong. For example, in the traditional retail industry, among customers who felt valued, 91 per cent plan to stay with the brand, 89 per cent plan to increase their spending with the brand, and 90 per cent will advocate for the brand. This matters to the bottom line because a one-point improvement in its CX Index score can lead to an incremental $244 million [USD] in revenue for a big-box retailer,” the Index explains.
Negative emotions to avoid are: anger, annoyance, disappointment, and frustration.
“We found that the TV service provider industry had the largest percentage of customers who felt annoyed of any industry in our study. The result? Just 17 per cent plan to stay with the brand, 12 per cent plan to increase their spending with the brand, and 11 per cent will advocate for the brand. These negative emotions hurt revenues: A large TV service provider leaves $104 million on the table for every one-point decline in its CX Index score,” it concludes.