February 9th, 2012 by Leonard Klie

Research firm Forrester recently published its 2012 Customer Experience Index, based on more than 7,600 customer interviews to get their perceptions of interactions with 160 brands across 13 industries, and found that customer service is getting worse, not better.

To compile its index, Forrester asked more than 7,600 consumers to rate how well each firm met their needs, how easy the firm was to work with, and how enjoyable the interaction was.

Sadly, only four firms earned “excellent” ratings, scoring 85 points or more. They were USAA, Kohl’s, Amazon, and Costco. That’s a mere 3 percent of all the brands involved in the survey, down from 6 percent that received “excellent” ratings last year.

USAA received the highest overall score among all the firms reviewed, with a score of 89 on a 100-point scale, well above the banking industry’s average score of 70. USAA Bank’s credit card and USAA insurance group scored 84 and 83, respectively. The average score among credit card providers in the study was 67, and the average among insurers was 71.

“At a time when news about banks is vastly negative, we are proud that USAA Bank holds the top score in this highly regarded customer experience report,” Wayne Peacock, executive vice president of member experience at USAA, said in a statement. “Focusing on our members is central to USAA’s mission, and our employees take personal pride in delivering exceptional experiences every time to USAA members.”

But USAA’s positive news aside, the ratings have been declining steadily even as the number of brands in the survey have gone up.

So are you ready for even more bad news? According to the report, almost two-thirds of all the brands in the survey rated OK at best, with many scoring “very poor.” Barnes & Noble dropped seven points and was one of 23 brands whose scores fell by five points or more since last year

But not all the news was bleak. Some brands—five of them, in fact—did actually improve their ratings from last year. Wyndham Hotels and Resorts was this year’s top mover with a 17-point increase. USAA widened its lead in the banking category by six points in the past year.

Megan Burns, an analyst at Forrester, drew the following conclusion: Customer expectations are getting higher, and what a company does in one industry effects what people expect in other industries, raising the bar for everyone.

More important, Burns notes that companies hoping to differentiate themselves on the basis of customer service will have to work even harder to catch up to the leaders in the industry.

Unfortunately we found a similar picture when we analysed customer service in the UK – some companies provide fast, accurate answers to customer questions, while others in the same industry are simply failing to deliver. In an era of increased customer churn this widening chasm will simply see consumers surf elsewhere if they don’t get what they want. More in this blog post http://eptica.wordpress.com/2011/06/14/the-customer-service-black-hole/

Comment by Eptica Blog — — February 15, 2012 @ 8:57 am

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