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Retailers Still Struggle To Differentiate Through Customer Experience

Sucharita Kodali
Sucharita Kodali
Vice President, Principal Analyst
June 26, 2018

The barrier has never been lower for retail shoppers to compare offerings and try new companies. Superior customer experience (CX) helps foster loyalty, and at the end of the day, CX leaders grow revenue faster than CX laggards. However, we found that most retailers continue to struggle at delivering great experiences to their customers.

Forrester ranked the quality of CX of 53 multichannel and digital retail brands and found that improvement was stagnant over the past year. Traditional retailers’ CX Index scores remained flat in 2018, and digital retailers’ scores dropped slightly. Of the 42 multichannel retailers we evaluated, we found that only four made the cut for our “good” category. Digital retailers scored higher, with shoppers rating five of the 11 brands’ CX as “good.”

Based on a survey of more than 110,000 US adult customers in 2018, Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) methodology measures how well a brand’s customer experience strengthens the loyalty of its customers. Forrester used this methodology to benchmark CX quality at 287 US brands in 2018.

Here’s a preview of the results:

  • Trader Joe’s ranks first for traditional retailers. This is the first year we included Trader Joe’s in the CX Index, and the California-based grocer excelled with the best “convenience” scores of any multichannel retailer.
  • Barnes & Noble made the biggest jump: from 19th to seventh place. By hosting unique local events and offering top-of-the-line customer service, Barnes & Noble climbed in our rankings.
  • Home Shopping Network claimed the top spot for digital retailers. HSN unseated Etsy as the top-ranked digital retailer, with superior customer service agents and crystal-clear return policies.

We found that “customer service” is the most important driver for multichannel retailers’ CX, while “products and service” is the most important category for digital retailers. For multichannel retailers, whether shoppers feel appreciated, happy, and valued has the biggest impact on loyalty. For digital retailers, the most important emotions for loyalty are feeling appreciated, confident, and happy.

For the complete results and more insight into what drives positive and negative experiences with retailers, see “The US Digital Retailers Customer Experience Index, 2018” and “The US Multichannel Retailers Customer Experience Index, 2018.”

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