Forrester’s 2019 Customer Experience Index: The Lessons .

Karen Waters
Author: Karen Waters
Product Director

Research company Forrester has published its 2019 US Customer Experience (CX) Index, and the results are interesting for companies looking to learn from others.

First, let’s look at how Forrester measures customer experience

Forrester’s methodology is based on how well CX strengthens customer loyalty. They look at 6 umbrella metrics.

To measure CX quality, they review:

  • Effectiveness: That the experience delivers value to customers
  • Ease: That it’s not difficult to get value from the experience
  • Emotion: That customers feel good about their experience

To measure customer loyalty, they review:

  • Retention: The likelihood of keeping existing business
  • Enrichment: The likelihood of customers buying additional products and services
  • Advocacy: The likelihood customers will recommend the brand to others.

Forrester’s analysis covered 260 brands across 16 industries, and they surveyed 101,341 adults in the US. So it’s a large sample from which to draw conclusions.

Now, the results – brands are struggling to make big improvements

While 14% of brands significantly increased their score, 81% stayed the same compared to 2018. And no brand was classed as “Excellent” – the fourth year that top category was empty.

All of us who recognise the commercial importance of customer experience want to see more upward movement, no question.

Forrester cites 3 issues:

  • Companies see big gains in CX by addressing low-hanging fruit
  • It’s harder to address more complex CX issues once those initial fixes are executive
  • Customer perceptions of a stand-out CX are changing – “What customers once saw as a big improvement now becomes par for the course,” as the Forrester report says

So how can businesses avoid a CX plateau – and truly differentiate themselves?

Based on Engage Hub’s years helping organisations with this challenge, there are 3 crucial steps to take once the quick fixes have been executed:

  • Cut across data siloes – the difficulty with CX is that it cuts across so many departments and functions, and in medium and large organisations, this means it involves many different technology platforms. Marketing may be using a CRM that customer service agents and logistics can’t access. Data collected in-store may not integrate with e-commerce. There are so many systems and variables at work within the organisation, and it seems a gargantuan task to get them to speak to each other. But CX technology has evolved, and it’s now relatively easy to roll out a customer engagement solution that sits on top of your other systems. That way you don’t have to overhaul established processes and operations, and can still get that 360-degree customer view.
  • Get accurate customer journey mapping – you can’t create a CX strategy unless you have an accurate analysis of the customer journey. Once you have access to that 360-degree customer view, you can break down the common stages, understand which stages are created by you and which are created by the customer, and delve into the specific goals and pain points. You can then start preparing a list of improvements – big and small – which you can then build into an evidence-based plan.
  • Engage internal stakeholders The Forrester report has a telling quote: “Generally, employees are enthusiastic about customer obsession. They want to do their jobs well. They want customers to be happy. But a can-do attitude isn’t enough to carry out a complex CX strategy…Left to their own devices, employees will decide what your CX strategy means for them. And they may or may not be right. If they’re wrong, this leads to frustration that corrodes CX momentum.”This 100% chimes with our experience. Just as you need to cut across data siloes, you need to engage people across the organisation. This includes internal communication to help people understand the CX priorities and how they’re involved. And it also includes providing training where needed, based on requirements you’ve identified in your customer journey mapping. Training could be as simple as helping customer service staff understand how AI and chatbots are being used, or how to access and use better customer data available in a new system. And it could be more strategic – like running ‘lunch and learns’ with different departments, so people have a better understanding of how their colleagues are working towards the overarching CX goals.

There’s an optimistic future

Employees want to deliver great experiences. Customers want great experiences. And Forrester found that the return on investment on small CX Index increases is huge –a major retailer can earn an extra $244 million in incremental revenue based on a 1-point boost in their index score.

So the will is there on all sides.

It’s a function of having the technology and the insight to build momentum. And the market is now at a stage where these tools are on tap.

(You can learn more about customer experience tools here.)

Karen Waters
About the author: Karen Waters

Recently appointed as Product Director at Engage Hub, Karen has held a wide range of roles across Telefonica, Vivo and start-ups, gaining over 10 years of product management and commercial experience across different markets in LATAM, Africa and SEA. In her day to day duties, Karen is responsible for defining product strategy, roadmap creation and maintenance, release scheduling, and partnering across the company. If she’s not halfway across the world meeting with clients to gather product requirements, she’ll more than likely be found hiking a mountain or exploring remote villages.