For the past two weeks, I’ve been on the other side of the planet, spending a few days each in four very different cities: Sydney, Singapore, Beijing, and Shanghai. While Sydney was much like I remembered it — an exotic version of San Francisco but with better weather — the Singapore skyline had changed drastically and now appears to be a science-fiction version of the seaport I remembered. (If you think I’m kidding, just do a search on “Marina Bay Sands Hotel.”)
In contrast to Sydney and Singapore, I hadn’t been to either Beijing or Shanghai before. I was blown away by how vibrant those cities are and how much prosperity is on display: If the Chinese economy is truly slowing down, you wouldn’t know it from all the luxury cars on the road.
Despite all the diversity I saw on my trip, for me, there was one constant across all four cities: the high level of interest in customer experience.
In Sydney, I gave talks about customer experience to three different groups of 20 to 40 people each. Even though the attendees came from very diverse companies — like insurers, quick-serve restaurants, technology vendors, and giant professional services firms — all three groups asked questions that showed this wasn’t their first CX rodeo.
I also gave a speech to the digital team at a major bank, and as a bonus, I got to see the company’s chief experience officer give a talk. Frankly, there are a lot of US and European banks that could learn from that large, enthusiastic, clued-in group.
My time in Singapore started out with a customer experience ecosystem mapping workshop for around 35 people. This was also a diverse group, with varying levels of customer experience expertise, even among attendees from the same company. They all picked up on the concepts, though, and generated an impressive amount of insight.
By asking some 2,000 French consumers if their experiences with leading brands met their needs, were easy, and were enjoyable, we are able to provide a benchmark of the quality of customer experience for 38 French brands across eight industries — including airlines, banks, electronics manufacturers, hotels, retailers, TV service providers, wireless service providers, and insurers.
Every year, Forrester collects and analyzes data about "chief customer officers" (CCOs) to understand who they are, where they come from, and which companies appoint them. Whether they are called "chief customer officer" or have some other title, these leaders occupy positions of power in a diverse range of companies. Our data shows that CCOs exist at some of the world's biggest companies, including at more than 6% of the S&P 500. The role remains largely experimental at this point — the vast majority of the CCOs we researched hold the position for the first time at their companies and have no previous background in customer experience. However, as companies pivot to adapt to the age of the customer, Forrester believes CCOs have the potential to play a critical role as they have: 1) a deep understanding of changing customer needs and expectations; 2) strong professional brands required for leading change; and 3) experience breaking down operational silos across the CX ecosystem.
Which brands did UK consumers rate as the best for customer experience? The highest score went to Amazon, with a Customer Experience Index (CXi) score of 81. Five more retailers — Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Debenhams, Next, and Boots — scored 75 or more, which is Forrester’s threshold for a customer experience to be considered “good.” It's evident that retailers are doing a better job, on average, of meeting their customers' expectations than the other industries that online consumers rated in this study — airlines, banks, electronics manufacturers, hotels, retailers, and TV service providers.
Among bank brands, Halifax was the top performer with a CXi score of 70, fully 13 points ahead of the lowest bank in the index — Santander, with a score of just 57. Bringing up the rear in Forrester’s index were TV service providers and mobile telecommunications providers — Virgin Media, BT (TV Service), Vodafone, and Orange all had “very poor” CXi scores of less than 55.
If you’re familiar with the Customer Experience Index that Forrester has conducted annually in the US since 2007, you will know that this research provides allows us to compare the experience at leading companies — as rated by their customers. We achieve this by asking customers if their experiences with leading brands met their needs, were easy, and were enjoyable:
Are you looking for a vendor or vendors to support your voice of the customer (VoC) program? Or are you reviewing your current VoC vendor(s)?
Selecting the right vendor or vendors can be hard! Why? The VoC vendor landscape is hard to decipher. There are many but relatively small vendors, and they rely on an interconnected network of partners, acquire each other at an impressive rate, and regularly expand into new spaces. And companies often already have a number of vendors they work with. In my recent webinar about VoC, most of the attendees had from three to five vendors that supported their VoC program in some shape or form.
But there are a few beacons to help orient you in your quest:
The VoC vendor market is an ecosystem. What vendors are the right “lid” for your “VoC program pot” depends entirely on your internal capabilities and the characteristics of your VoC program. We identified customer feedback management (CFM) platforms and VoC specialist vendors. CFM platforms support VoC programs with a robust set of capabilities that include feedback collection, integration of feedback with other data in a centralized data hub, analysis, reporting, and closed-loop action management. VoC specialists offer a subset of VoC platform vendor capabilities. Their areas of expertise range from surveying customers in order to generate measurement data to mining your unstructured feedback with text analytics, monitoring social media data, and consulting to help establish or evolve a VoC program.
For the past seven years, Forrester has reported on how consumers rate their experiences with major brands in the US by publishing our annual report, the Customer Experience Index (CXi). The CXi has helped us identify customer experience leaders and helped many top brands in the US benchmark their customer experience against their peers.