Forrester CX Index 2018 - Key Takeaways

Positive customer experience makes your customers happy, appreciated and respected. And happy customers are the best marketers as they share their positive experiences with their friends, family and social circles.

Customer experience (CX) can be broadly defined as the emotions that your customers experience at every touchpoint with your organisation. These combined emotional experiences determine how your customers perceive and think about your brand. Striving to continuously improve customer experience is challenging.

But the deep insight, trends and comparisons provided by the Forrester CX index are enormously valuable in this endeavour.

What is the Forrester CX Index?

The Forrester CX Index is an annually compiled benchmark of customer experience quality among large global brands, based on Forrester’s proprietary consumer survey data. The most recent (2017/2018) US CX Index assessed 287 brands across 19 industries.

To compile the data Forrester conducted online surveys, in the USA, of 110,828 individuals aged from 18 to 88 between February and May 2018. Respondents are not directed to consider specific touchpoints. The survey aims to include all of their interactions with the researched brands over the preceding 90 days. Forrester’s CX index measures and compares CX scores based upon this collected consumer survey data.

US CX Index 2018 Key Takeaways

There were three notable takeaways from the 2018 US CX Index:

  1. Customer Experience Quality Languished.
  2. Stagnation Among Elite Brands Left a Leadership Goal
  3. Emotion Holds the Key to Achieving CX Differentiation.

Read on for a little more background on each of these findings.

Customer Experience Quality Languished in 2018

Survey results show that the CX scores of around the same number of assessed brands rose as fell. Of the 287 brands in the US CX index 37 were indicated to have statistically significant score improvements while 40 experienced statistically significant score declines. Brands that rose tended to gain an average of just over 4 points while brands which declined lost an average of just under 4 points. Twelve brands gained 5 or more points while nine brands lost 5 or more points.

This is an apparent improvement on 2017 when the scores of significantly more brands declined than increased. But the 2018 results are weaker than those gathered in 2016.

The percentage of brands scored in the ‘OK’ category increased from 59% to 62% while the percentages in the ‘poor’ and ‘good’ categories both declined. This reflects more brands clustered in the middle category.

There was some fluctuation in industry-specific averages with four industries rising while three fell. This is an improvement on 2017 when there were nil improvements and three industry averages fell. Gains were seen for the luxury auto manufacturer industry, which rose from 6th to 2nd place, and the auto/home insurance industry, which rose from 10th to 6th. Notable declines were recorded for the multi-channel brokerage industry, which fell from 5th to 9th, and mass-market auto manufacturer industry, which fell from 7th to 13th. The ISP industry remained in the bottom position with an even lower score than in 2017.

Stagnation at the Top Reveals No CX Leaders

No brands have managed to rise to the top of the 2018 US CX Index.

Elite brands are classified as the top 5% of brands across all industries. There were 15 elite brands in the 2017 index, of these 12 have shown no statistically significant changes in their assessed 2018 scores. Three of the brands classified as ‘elite’ in the 2018 results made it into this category simply because, although their scores had remained static, others from 2017 had dropped. Tiny, statistically insignificant score changes have resulted in changes to the top brands across six industries without any real change in their CX quality.

Emotion Holds the Key to CX Differentiation

The 2018 survey has determined that in order to make real CX improvements brands need to focus on emotion. How a customer experience makes them feel has been determined to have the biggest influence on their brand loyalty.

Six customer emotions were determined to have a positive influence on loyalty:

  1. Appreciated
  2. Confident
  3. Grateful
  4. Happy
  5. Respected
  6. Valued

Forrester CX Loyalty Customer Emotions

The impact of these positive emotional responses is noted to be clear and strong.

The most significant negative customer emotional responses were assessed to be:

  1. Annoyed
  2. Disappointed
  3. Frustrated

It was noted that making customers angry had a lower negative impact on their brand loyalty than making them feel annoyed, disappointed or frustrated. These are definitely customer experiences to be avoided!

Worsening CX Leadership

The latest Forrester CX Index for US brands indicates that customer experience is stagnating. For the third consecutive year no single brand has made it to the top of the index and continued to move upwards. Without any real leaders the assessed brands fall into four apparent categories:

  1. Languishers: Brands which previously improved but have since remained static (stagnated). 10% of the assessed US brands can be considered to be languishers.
  2. Lapsers: Brands which have previously improved but subsequently declined. 20% of the assessed US brands can be classified as lapsers.
  3. Locksteppers: Brands which move both up and down with the pack, failing to differentiate themselves. 48% of the surveyed US brands fall into this group.
  4. Laggards: Some laggards have improved their CX scores, but they remain at the bottom of the hierarchy. 23% of the assessed US brands fall into this group.

How to Break Away from the Pack

The latest US CX Index clearly reflects stagnation without any stand-out CX achievements from any of the evaluated brands. Brand performance in these latest results indicates that those which provided predominantly positive emotional experiences performed more strongly than those for which fewer positive emotional experiences were reflected.

These results indicate that, in order to break away from the pack and stand out from the crowd, brands need to focus on the emotional experiences of customers. As noted, if customers can be made to feel appreciated, confident, grateful, happy, respected or valued at every touchpoint they are most likely to remain loyal.

Brands should work hard to avoid ever making customers feel annoyed, disappointed or frustrated as these emotional responses will drive them away.

Regional CX Indices

It should be noted that Forrester produces similar CX Index reports for other geographc regions including these:

Give Customer Thermometer a trial and find out how your customers feel! You will quickly see how easily implemented, simple surveys deliver great response rates that will improve your customer experience.

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