After years of turmoil, brand customer service may be rebounding—what’s changed?

by | Jun 20, 2019 | Public Relations

Remember when “service with a smile” was hallmark credo for public-facing companies? Customer service has been hailed as the key driver of consumer loyalty, but lately it’s been the most enigmatic challenge facing brand marketers. Year after year, we’ve seen consumer approval numbers in a tailspin as leaders struggle with strategies for getting a handle on what has always been a critical component for success.

New Forrester research suggests we may finally be on the road towards a turning point. The firm’s newly released U.S. 2019 Customer Experience Indexrankings show early signs of CX improvement when compared to previous years.

The findings show that 14 percent of brands achieved a significantly increased score; six industry averages rose while only one fell; and 5 percent of brands saw their scores decline. Additionally, the average scores of the mass-market auto manufacturer, direct banking, health insurer, hotel, multichannel retailer, and wireless service provider industries rose slightly, with luxury automakers and health insurers emerging as the top-performing industries.

After years of turmoil, brand customer service may be rebounding—what’s changed?

For the second year in a row, Navy Federal Credit Union topped the CX elite brands that are recognized as in the top 5 percent of CX quality across industries in their regions. Other CX elite brands (in alphabetical order) include Boost Mobile, Edward Jones, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Lexus, QVC, Regions Bank, Residence Inn by Marriott, TD Bank, USAA (for three industries: direct banks, credit card issuers, and auto/home insurers), and Zappos.com. Find out here where your firm or client’s brand ranks in Forrester’s US 2019 CX Index.

After years of turmoil, brand customer service may be rebounding—what’s changed?

While these positive signs are indicative of more brands improving CX, the results show that brands have struggled to rise to the top of the rankings or move upward

According to the survey, 81 percent of brand scores stagnated; most industry front-runners were repeats; and many gains were too minor to render them statistically significant. In other words, CX excellence remains elusive. The survey also revealed that emotion plays a critical role in differentiating brands and has a bigger impact on brand loyalty than effectiveness or ease of use, regardless of industry.

After years of turmoil, brand customer service may be rebounding—what’s changed?

“This year’s CX Index results clearly show that brands are on the right path but still have a long way to go,” said Carrie Johnson, Forrester chief research officer, in a news release. “With customers in the driver’s seat and heightened consumer interest in organizations’ corporate values when making buying decisions, how an experience makes customers feel has a bigger influence on their brand loyalty than any other factor. That’s why it’s critical to understand the intersection of in-the-moment customer feedback and which CX drivers matter most to customers and your bottom line.”

Even a minor improvement to a brand’s customer experience quality can add tens of millions of dollars of revenue by reducing customer churn and increasing share of wallet. Additionally, superior CX leads to reduced service costs and lowers the cost of customer acquisition through word of mouth.

Read more about the research on the Forrester blog here.

After years of turmoil, brand customer service may be rebounding—what’s changed?

Conducted for the fifth year, Forrester’s CX Index results are benchmarked on a survey of more than 100,000 U.S. customers across 260 brands and 16 industries. Forrester’s CX Index methodology helps CX leaders grow revenue faster, drive higher brand preference, and charge more for their products. Forrester’s CX Index helps brands identify the key drivers of a positive CX for their customers to prioritize efforts.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter