The beginning of the COVID pandemic did little to disrupt the customer experience that Canadian brands provide their customers, with the overall quality of the customer experience remaining unchanged from 2019, according to business and marketing analysts Forrester.
Forrester’s sixth annual Customer Experience Index, based on a survey of more than 58,000 Canadian consumers, resulted in an average customer experience (CX) score of 67.4 across 147 brands in 12 industries. That was virtually identical to last year’s average CX score of 67.2.
Forrester said that the number of brands that saw their CX score fall this year was equal to the number of brands that saw their score rise.
Sixteen of the 147 brands included in the survey had what Forrester vice-president and principal analyst Rick Parrish deemed “statistically significant” CX score increases, while 12 had significant decreases. Brands that rose gained an average of 3.3 points, while brands that fell lost an average of 3.4 points.
Forrester says that several industries, including credit cards, direct banks, investment firms and multichannel retail industry saw an increase in CX quality.
For the second straight year—and just the second year ever—there were no declines in CX averages across the 12 industries covered by the study.
The study also noted the inclusion of seven “elite” brands: Chapters/Indigo, Costco, Home Hardware, MEC, PetSmart, Toyota and Well.ca. However, Forrester says that six of those brands showed no statistically significant score change from last year, with only Toyota seeing a marked improvement.
Forrester identified the vast majority of brands (52%) in this year’ study as “locksteppers,” whose CX quality was roughly on par with that of their competitors, while 22% were languishers whose CX score has remained the same for at least two years.
Forrester says that emotion is the key to CX leadership, noting that how an experience makes customers feels has a greater impact on brand loyalty than effectiveness or ease across all categories. According to Forrester, elite brands in its ranking provided an average of 20 “emotionally positive” experiences for each negative experience, while the lowest 5% of brands provided just three positive experiences for each negative experience.
CX can have a profound business impact. In the retail category, for example, among customers who felt valued, 87% plan to stay with the brand, 84% plan to increase spending, and 86% will advocate for the brand.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic has done little to disrupt the quality of experience Canadian brands provide customers, our rankings show those brands looking to break away from the pack and deliver better CX must shift their focus to understanding how customers are affected by experiences emotionally,” said Sharyn Leaver, Forrester’s senior vice-president of research. “This will be a crucial differentiator in how brands can not only achieve and sustain customer loyalty but better distinguish themselves from the competition.”
Even a minor improvement in a brand’s CX quality can adds “tens of millions” in revenue by reducing customer churn and boosting share of wallet, according to Forrester. It can also lower the cost of customer acquisition through improved word of mouth.