Forrester’s 2018 Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) results continue to show that companies are struggling to create and sustain a human connection with their customers. This is not a question of delighting customers as an endgame or some fluffy sense of emotional attachment; this is a crass and clear story of financial risk.

Taking a step back, it’s proving to be a monumental strategic pivot to reorient operations around the customer. The challenge is daunting: Companies need to reverse deeply rooted operating models that prioritized control and efficiency and overcome product and delivery silos that fracture customer journeys and frustrate customers. In addition, companies need to take the big leap from viewing customers through a macro lens (an account holder, a subscriber, a segment, or a persona) to viewing a customer as a single sentient human being — and then operationalizing that view.

To dig into this, we looked at different industries — including retail, banking, wealth management, insurance, airlines, and automotive — in our CX Index, specifically comparing how customers perceive the quality of emotional- and human-oriented experiences versus those that speak to the core operational capabilities of the industry. We looked at it in two ways:

  1. How quality scores — effectiveness and ease — compare with emotion.
  2. How core operational measures (e.g., banking services) compare to the customer’s sense of how well their loyalty is rewarded.

The results are at the same time shocking and unsurprising: Companies are struggling to create human connections that matter. Acknowledging that it is not clear what a rational expectation for human connections should be, there are natural and manmade headwinds that are making what is possible harder to achieve:

  • Declining trust in institutions
  • Switch incentives that excite churn
  • New digitally native, experience-driven companies purposed to the customer
  • Internal silos that complicate experience design and delivery
  • Underperforming and mostly supply-side loyalty programs
  • The “sameness” of digital transformation efforts that erode brand distinction

Today’s good economic conditions are likely masking the real threats to the P&L, but that is a matter of time — time that companies desperately need to tune themselves to an unforgiving market.

To learn more on how your firm can create human connections that matter, download our complimentary CX Index guide.