We all know about the importance of the customer experience, but because there's no magic formula for what works and what doesn’t, it’s often challenging to know how your company’s efforts stack up against the competition. Until now. Forrester recently announced the results of their 2012 Customer Experience Index.
The State of Customer Experience in 2012
In an effort to assess the state of customer experience in 2012, Forrester asked more than 7,600 US consumers about their interactions with a variety of companies. Based on their responses, which covered "any touchpoints they used to interact with the brand," Forrester calculated Customer Experience Index (CXi) scores for 160 brands across 13 industries.
Focused only on business to consumer experiences (sorry B2Bs), the index ranks the following industries for how well they were evaluated across three key customer experience areas: 1. How well did they meet your need? 2. How easy were they to do business with? 3. How enjoyable were they to do business with?
- Investment Firms
- Credit Cards
- Insurance Providers
- Health Insurance Plans
- TV Service Providers
- Internet Service Providers
- Wireless Service Providers
- Consumer Electronics
- Parcel Shipping
Innovation Technology: It's In the Way That You Use It
Designed to help customer experience professionals track their performance against other companies with regard to customer experience quality, the index identifies interesting examples of CXM innovations. Overall, the index seems to point out that brands trying to differentiate on the basis of customer experience need to look in a variety of places for possible competitive threats and standard-setters, not just the most obvious ones.
For instance, two examples that caught the attention of researchers for their unexpected innovations came from two companies that probably get overlooked for seeming traditional and conventional.
- At Safelite Auto Glass, customers were sent an email with the photo and name of the person who was schedule to show up at their house to fix their windshield.
- 1-800-GOT-JUNK integrated their customer feedback and scheduling systems so a driver’s calendar color-codes each appointment based on the score that customer gave after a previous interaction. As a result, drivers could get a quick scan or bring up detailed feedback to help them tailor conversations with the customer and create continuity across experiences.
Both of these solutions don’t require advanced technology, and yet they are innovative because they make use of information they already have and use it to improve customer relations, furthering the notion that it’s not the information you gather, but rather what you do with that information that matters.
Indexing the Customer Experience
For some industries, those that rank at the top (and at the bottom) are not surprising. Apple and Blackberry, respectively bookended the companies in the consumer electronics category, while USAA and Bank of America represent opposite ends of the banking industry.
For other industries, the names at the top are probably not what you think they are. Hampton and La Quinta Inn rank at the top of the hotel category, with larger, more recognized brands like Hyatt and Hilton are towards the bottom. And even a brand like Best Buy, who pride themselves on their social media presence, ranks very low across retailers, while companies like Kohl's and Amazon are at the top.
So what does all of this mean? Forrester's research demonstrates that revenue increases when a company's CXi score goes up, showing that the bottom line impact is driven by improved customer loyalty benefits, including incremental purchases, lower customer churn and new sales driven by word of mouth.
However, what still remains more ambiguous is how to do it. For those looking for the easy way out, there is no silver bullet. If you’re serious about serving your customers, you can’t apply just any solution. It has to make sense, solve a problem or add value. Chances are you already have the right information, you just need to use it in a way that meets the needs of your customers, which in turn will help to promote your company’s profile.