One week ago today, we Bostonians enjoyed a picture-perfect opening day at Fenway Park. The sun was shining, temps finally warmed up after an abysmal winter, opening ceremonies paid tribute to local heroes like the Richard and Frates families,* and our beloved Red Sox beat the Washington Nationals 9 to 4.

What I love about opening day at Fenway is the optimism, the sense that anything is possible. A new season means a clean slate; the less-than-stellar 2014 baseball season is all but a distant memory.

It is now, as they say, a whole new ball game.

We’re starting a new CX season, too, with the first release of Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) benchmark for 2015. It’s the first time we’ve benchmarked brands using the next-generation CX Index methodology that we announced in June 2014. (The Sox lost to Seattle that day 8 to 2, but at least one good thing happened!)  

The biggest change in our new approach is the way we judge CX excellence. To hit a home run, the 299 brands we studied had to do more than make customers happy. They had to design and deliver a CX that actually helps the business by creating and sustaining customer loyalty.  

Our new rules shook up the standings and pulled a bit of a Billy Beane, tipping conventional CX wisdom on its head. For example:

  • There’s a shakeup on the CX leaderboards. For the first seven years of the CX Index, retailers, hotels, and parcel shippers dominated — but not this year. As industries, hotels and shippers dropped to the middle of the pack. Retailers held on to first place, but there’s an asterisk on that particular stat. We broke the retail industry into two groups in 2015 — those with physical stores and those without. Retailers without stores (we call them digital-only retailers) kept the top spot. Those with stores fell multiple places in the industry standings.
  • A superstar CX isn’t always worth it. In most of the industries, we saw a strong positive link between CX quality, loyalty, and loyalty-driven revenue. But that wasn’t always the case. Our models for one industry showed a very clear and compelling point of diminishing return. Taking CX from poor to okay is more profitable for brands in this space than going from okay to excellent. That doesn’t mean that anyone can afford to ignore CX. Many aren’t even hitting the okay mark right now. But it gives executives something to think about as they refine their company’s overarching CX strategy.

There’s more analysis in the report itself, and I’m happy to take inquiry calls to talk about our findings and what they mean for CX professionals. And for the statistics junkies out there, details on the CX Index benchmark data product are on Forrester’s website.

And stay tuned . . . this is game No. 1 of a double header. Our US CX Index benchmark now happens twice a year. We expect the second wave of benchmark data (using the same methodology) in late Q3/early Q4 2015.


*No disrespect intended to our 2015 Superbowl champion New England Patriots, but I think even they’d agree that these families and the people they represent are Boston’s true heroes.