My colleague Megan Burns and I have just published our new report "Executive Q&A: Customer Experience Measurement" in response to all the great questions we’ve been getting about measuring customer experience. To measure customer experience (CX), firms need a framework that tells them not only how good their customers' experiences are but also how to improve them and what benefits to expect from doing so. Increasingly, companies are developing such a framework despite facing sometimes-major obstacles.
This report answers some of the most common questions customer experience professionals agonize over when it comes to CX measurement.
One of those questions we are often asked is, “What does it mean to measure customer experience?” Here is the answer. Forrester defines CX as: how customers perceive their interactions with an organization. Therefore, fundamentally, to measure customer experience is to measure customers' perceptions of their interactions with a firm.
Allow us to paint a vision of the future for you: After interactions with your favorite companies, no one asks you how you liked those interactions. Your email inbox contains no requests for a few minutes of your time. No one asks you to wait on the phone line to answer a few questions. The word "survey" has vanished from your vocabulary.
GPS-enabled smartphones have made location the cornerstone of the mobile experience. Location powers popular smartphone apps such as Foursquare, shopkick, and Yelp; overall, navigation and mapping apps are the third-most-used category of smartphone apps, ranking higher than gaming, news, and shopping. Yet, as important as location is, its dependence on satellite-based positioning systems prevents it from playing a significant role indoors -- where we spend up to 90% of our lives.
As I discuss in my new report, Next In Tech: Indoor Positioning, indoor positioning technologies are rapidly changing this situation by enabling users, venue owners, and app developers to determine a person's (or object's) position inside buildings. The impact of this change will be profound:
Make the physical world searchable down to the object level. By geotagging objects (through manual tagging or low cost tracking beacons), indoor positioning will make it possible to search for products and objects in the physical world as easily as we can on the Internet.
Provide a new platform for in-store shopper engagement and experiences. Indoor positioning will not only help shoppers with tasks such as locating products on shelves, calling for assistance, and accessing in-store services but will also enable retailers to engage shoppers in real time as they shop.
Digitize the call for help. Requesting help in venues will soon go digital, as indoor positioning will enable the help to come to you rather than you going to the help.
From now on, any brand that scores an 85 or above in our Customer Experience Index (CXi) will receive both a physical award and a badge for its website naming it a “Forrester Customer Experience Index Award Of Excellence” winner for that year. Here’s a sneak peak at what winners will get:
Mockup of the Forrester Customer Experience Index Award Of Excellence
Without further ado, please join me in congratulating the winners of the first annual CXi Award Of Excellence, 2013: Marshalls, USAA (bank), Amazon.com, Kohl’s, Target, Courtyard by Marriott, Sam’s Club, Rite Aid, Costco, Lowe’s, TJ Maxx, JCPenney, and Marriott Hotels & Resorts!
Special congratulations to four of these brands — USAA (bank), Amazon, Kohl’s, and Costco. They were on the list of “excellent” brands in our 2012 CXi, too. It’s not easy keeping up with changing customer demands, so kudos to them for maintaining their leadership positions.
Earlier this month, Avis announced that it will acquire Zipcar. On paper, the combination of a traditional car rental company with a car-sharing service sounds like a win-win deal. Unfortunately, many of Zipcar’s customers think they’ll end up as losers. Here’s just a sampling from the hundreds of comments that concerned Zipsters have posted on Facebook since the acquisition announcement.
“Avis is horrible. They ‘lost’ a car I returned not that long ago. It was in the parking lot the entire time but was recorded as being a different color. And they were insanely ignorant and seemed [to] revel in my panic . . . ”
“I've had the worst experiences with Avis, repeatedly :-(”
“I've had nothing but terrible experiences with Avis. I want to believe that Zipcar will not change, but I'm very skeptical that this will turn out good . . . ”
The 2013 CXi is based on research we did in Q4 2012. It reflects how consumers perceived their experiences with 154 brands across 14 industries. If you’re not familiar with the methodology, or just want a refresher, check out “Executive Q&A: Forrester’s Customer Experience Index, 2013.” We put all the nitty-gritty details in there.
But what about the big picture? Of course, there are winners and losers (we name them in the report.) There is a tale of two banks — one whose score jumped up by 11 points versus last year, and another whose score plummeted by 24 points.
Through it all, though, one common theme leapt out:
In 2013, it’s all about value.
Many of the top brands this year, including high-scorer Marshalls, deliver solid customer experience at a manageable price. We saw this dynamic in the hotel space, where Marriott’s Courtyard brand beat out all other hotel brands. And we saw it in the airline industry, where perennial favorites Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways once again swept the competition with their combination of great experience at a great price.
The way that firms can deliver value to clients has massively changed. Firms can interact with customers in the context of using products (e.g., think Rosetta Stone and language coaches). In fact, customers interacting with each other within the product may deliver more value than the product itself. Companies can harness the data exhaust of product usage and turn it into powerfully useful information to help customers succeed at their goals (e.g., think Nike Plus and fitness).
Firms need to rethink how they operate to capitalize on these opportunities. This means rethinking marketing and support roles that make less sense in a world of such ubiquitous interactions and data. It means rethinking separations between front and back office, both of which have very powerful impacts on customer experience.
How do customer experience leaders reinvent how their firms operate? Two articles give customer experience leaders some excellent guidance. The first is John Kotter’s “Accelerate!” He argues that companies need to build a parallel second operating system for the organization that more nimbly adapts to rapid change and disruption. For customer experience leaders, what does this operating system look like? A second Harvard Business Review article, “Adaptability: The New Competitive Advantage,” provides a nice framework for thinking about this new operating system. Its three imperatives are to: manage complex multicompany systems, read and act on signals, and experiment often. I’ve adapted these into a customer experience context:
Over the past two years, consumer technology adoption and market forces have catapulted the field of customer experience into strategic stature. In 2012, this shift manifested itself privately through sweeping organizational changes at companies in nearly every industry — and shined publicly through professional organizations, the media, and even the courts.
However, it will be years before customer experience is embedded to the same degree as mature business disciplines like finance, human resources, and information technology. While many firms have been working diligently to improve their customer experience for years, still others remain woefully in the dark about the business value it can bring. The net result is that in 2013 — and for several years to come — the customer experience industry will be characterized by efforts that range wildly from systematic change initiatives to desperate shortcuts.
In our latest report, Ron Rogowski and I outline the changes that customer experience professionals can expect in 2013 and highlight the pitfalls that companies need to avoid during the upcoming year. For example: