When I first saw buttons at Heathrow that let travelers give instant feedback on how they were feeling, I laughed. Measuring and refining customer experience is about long-term strategy, not raw takes on what’s happening now. I was wrong.

Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) shows that most companies are stuck at “poor” or “very poor” levels and can’t break out. Even the companies that scored at the “good” level in 2017 (no company is “excellent”) either fell in 2018 or didn’t improve. Something is missing.

Experiences that are constructed and then left to run are no longer good enough for consumers. Retrospective surveys and “help us improve” pleas are outmoded at best, and annoying at worst.

What’s missing is real time. Companies won’t stand out unless they can monitor and improve experiences on a minute-to-minute basis — and perfect themselves through a continuous Darwinian process of adaptation. If there is no hot water in room 3424 at the Hilton, a guy with a wrench knocks on the door in three minutes to solve the problem. If you don’t like the Fidelity rep who’s helping you on the phone, the rep is replaced immediately — “Hello. John is gone, my name is Janice, and I will be helping you from now on.”

Real-time CX does two things: 1) It delights customers now, and 2) it shows sophistication and responsiveness — which enhances a company brand. And as our analysts have shown, companies with the best customer experience increase revenue at two times the rate of those with the worst. Money is on the line.