Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Most brands are battling to make meaningful inroads in the area of customer experience. This is according to a Forrester report, which reveals that the leaders of its 2015 customer experience index have not made much improvement since last year, and that the gap between them and the brands that lagged behind in 2015 has narrowed. The report goes on to predict that few brands are likely to break ground and move beyond the fundamentals of customer experience, particularly when it comes to data security, conversational interfaces, metrics and emotional drivers.

While the brands that scored poorly on customer experience in 2015 made progress this year, those that had been in the lead either slipped down the index or stayed were they were. The report says this is evidence of a “fork in the road” for customer experience, as those lagging realised that providing a better customer experience has major benefits in terms of revenue increases, pricing power and lower service costs.

However, the report shows that once customer-experience fundamentals have been put in place, progress tends to slow. Only a few brands stand out by addressing new challenges, such as bolstering data security, without negatively affecting the customer experience.

Even companies that have their roots in the digital era, such as Amazon, need to invest in ensuring a positive customer experience that makes the most of new capabilities, such as conversational interfaces, and avoids the drawbacks associated with the initial implementation of new technology. While organisations will in 2017 focus on improving safeguards to protect their customers’ data, many of them will neglect customer experience, which will create irritation instead of trust.

Previous Forrester reports have shown that negative emotions destroy consumer loyalty. This is why the report predicts that forward-thinking brands will go beyond just measuring the emotions of their customers and make a concerted effort to influence those emotions. However, many will not succeed in this because they tend to undervalue customer experience – their success will likely be limited to removing negative emotions. Most brands will be unsuccessful in building “signature moments” because they don’t understand the emotional contexts that drive consumer behaviour.

The report also looks at conversational interfaces such as chatbots, which aim to better serve customers. It warns that rolling out such technology prematurely could give it a bad name if it hinders the customer experience.

There is a danger, too, in misreading metrics. If brands don’t take underlying details and nuances into account, they may cause errors rather than enhancing customer experience.

The big take-out: A recent Forrester report reveals that few brands have grasped the fundamentals of customer experience.

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