Thursday, December 18, 2008

Customers Rate Experiences

Forrester has released its 2008 customer experience index report, based on consumer ratings of their experiences at firms covered in the study. Bruce Tempkin has posted some data on his blog and has a link there to the full report.

Forrester has 3 basic experience criteria—usefulness, ease of use, and enjoyability. The report gives a brief overview of their methodology. There are interesting comments on the blog and in response to one, he has given a little more detail on the methodology.
















The results are interesting. Retailers and hotels rank highest of the industries studied. Health insurance and TV service providers are at the bottom. The large range of experience ratings given to ISPs is interesting.

In some ways, I’d say the top-performing firms are the usual suspects. Have you ever sat down in a comfy chair and browsed through some books at Barnes and Noble? The one I go to doesn’t have its own coffee shop; that would add even more to the experience. USAA is always near the top on satisfaction studies; one assumes that their superb customer service is a huge factor in the overall experience rating. When you look at other high-performing firms, they’ve worked hard on customer service, so it seems reasonable to me that the basic blocking and tackling matters. Then if you add a coffee shop or a pizza parlor on top, you can offer great customer experience. But you can’t buy great customer experience with only coffee or pizza, no matter how good they are! If customer service stinks, nothing else really matters.

It’s good to choose one or more of the high-performing firms to study and observe. For instance, there’s not a Cosco near me; I don’t shop there and was surprised by a student analysis of just how good their customer service was a few semesters ago. It also helps to follow one or more firms outside your own industry; that may open up new ideas.

Customer experience is the focus at the moment—on the web and off. It’s worth developing a vision and a strategy and devoting time and effort to offering great customer experience. It pays off, perhaps in sustainable competitive advantage.

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