US customer experience hits rock bottom as brands struggle to keep up

US customer experience hits rock bottom as brands struggle to keep up

A new report by Forrester Research paints a bleak picture for customer experience (CX) in the United States. According to the 2024 US Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) rankings, CX quality has fallen to an all-time low, marking a troubling decline for the third year in a row.

A triple threat to customer satisfaction

Several factors are contributing to this downward trend, according to Forrester Research. Brands are failing to deliver seamless experiences for both customers and employees. Underwhelming digital experiences using chatbots as well as consumers’ concerns about their personal financial situations, society, and the economy at large, also contributed to the decline.

The cost of neglecting customers

The data speaks volumes: 39% of brands and 10 entire industries saw a drop in CX quality over the past year. Perhaps most alarmingly, all three key dimensions of CX quality – effectiveness, ease, and emotion – have suffered. Only 3% of companies qualify as “customer-obsessed,” prioritizing customer needs across all business decisions. This commitment is paying off, with customer-centric organizations boasting 41% faster revenue growth, 49% faster profit growth, and a staggering 51% improvement in customer retention compared to their less customer-focused counterparts.

A glimmer of hope, but challenges remain

There are a few bright spots in this report. The airline industry stands out as the only one to see an improvement in overall CX quality in 2024. However, even the “elite” brands – the top 5% of the CX Index, including Chewy.com and Subaru – faced headwinds in maintaining their status. Tesla, with its reputation for swift issue resolution, is a notable newcomer to this elite group.

The emotional disconnect: a key hurdle

Emotion remains a critical factor in delivering exceptional CX. Unfortunately, US companies are struggling to connect with customers on an emotional level, explains Forrester Research. Elite brands in 2024 evoke an average of 25 positive emotions for every negative one, a significant drop from 29 the previous year. Effectiveness and ease of use also took a hit, with the average scores falling to 64% and 66%, respectively.

The takeaway: prioritize customers for growth

“US consumers are experiencing the worst service in a decade,” states Rick Parrish, VP and research director at Forrester. While brands acknowledge the importance of CX and its positive impact on business, implementing the necessary changes seems to be a major challenge. Forrester’s research underscores the financial benefits of customer obsession, with companies prioritizing customer needs experiencing significant growth in revenue, profit, and customer loyalty.

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