The best customer experience brands for 2023 have been named by Forrester. From automobiles to pet supplies to financial services, these organizations are known for their customer-centricity. Why are these companies, in particular, examples of great customer experience? We explored the list and the lessons they can provide to any industry.
Customer experience quality among top brands, named as a priority by 80% of business leaders in 2023, actually dropped, according to Forrester’s US Customer Experience Index. For a second straight year. Just 6% of companies had a significant uptick in quality - a drop from the prior year when 10% saw measurable CX improvement.
So which brands were the big winners with improved CX quality? Seven brands from last year’s Index held on to the top spots. Three newcomers joined them from luxury automotive and retail, the only two industries with improved CX this year.
According to Forrester, these brands have elite CX status.
These brands represent the top 5% in customer experience quality. What is their secret? Forrester says great customer experiences hinge on three pillars: ease, effectiveness and emotion.
In 2022, the emotion metric dragged down the overall CX index scores - perhaps due to staffing challenges during a recession. This year, all three metrics dropped, but emotion dropped less than the other two. The analyst notes that the companies on the elite list appear to do a better job creating positive emotions - top brands create 29 positive emotions for every negative one.
For example, Trader Joe’s took a top spot in a Brand Intimacy Study, and it used AI to analyze the words shoppers chose to talk about the grocery giant.
“Trader Joe’s is winning customer hearts and minds not only as the highest performing retailer… but also among the top 10 out of hundreds of brands across industries,” said Mario Natarelli, managing partner at MBLM.
The Financial Services Customer Trust Index is another measure of customer satisfaction specific to financial institutions, and in 2023, customer trust was lackluster for the industry. So, it’s fascinating to see Navy Federal Credit Union and USAA named to the CX Index year after year. Both made repeat appearances in the top 10 this year and are mentioned in several other customer experience brand lists. What are they doing that other banks and financial services firms are missing?
USAA has an emotional component in its mission and messaging to military families, but it also uses technology to create effective proactive experiences. The bank leverages AI to look for patterns in banking that indicate life changes, such as deployment, and to reach out to offer assistance.
Although data alone can’t tell business leaders what and how to improve, there are many ways they can use data to identify opportunities to earn trust and to avoid damaging it. - Forrester
Navy Federal Credit Union is an eight-time member of the CX Index elite list, so clearly the world’s largest credit union should be a role model for CX tips and best practices. Forrester awarded the credit union with the #1 spot for multi-channel banks, based on performance in the following areas:
In their case, the credit union’s emphasis on providing visibility into product and pricing as well as direct communication to members appears to drive customer satisfaction at high levels.
Each of these award-winning organizations has a unique customer experience strategy, but all rely on the same thing to power these stellar interactions… data.
Companies have long understood the need for high-quality, robust data to identify needs and personalize offerings and services. But, it’s pretty hard to lasso and synthesize data coming from all different places.
Some of the most valuable data sources for customer experience delivery are hidden, and when found, they are difficult to share across departments or ecosystem partners. These data sources include:
It seems foolhardy to ignore the rich information that’s sitting inside those channels; our top performers don’t.
90% of CX leaders say customer expectations have increased to an all-time high.
This formula of heightened customer expectations x rapidly evolving AI technology equals customer experience that is being pushed like never before to be more personalized, precise, proactive and highly efficient. While this is a daunting task for business line leaders, executive teams and especially CIOs, it’s also a time of incredible opportunity that any organization in any industry should jump on.
CX management technology has risen to meet this challenge. It’s built to help companies take advantage of this massive shift in CX and AI. It provides business agility that streamlines customer journeys to better serve customers with less effort at scale, without ripping and replacing existing technology. It’s actually designed to plug into that legacy technology and free the data within so companies can finally use all of the value it holds.
Our CXMEngine plugs into data sources, like CRMs, ticketing systems, sales and marketing clouds, transactional core platforms, phone systems, and ecosystem partners and brings together all of that interaction data into one place.
With full visibility, brands can see everything that has happened with a customer, what’s next, what’s going well and what needs to be fixed. And with journey orchestration tools built in, those insights lead to action, using drag and drop ease. Brands that don’t leverage CX technology plus AI to scale their customer journey orchestration and optimization risk falling behind.
McKinsey notes, “… centralizing data alone isn’t going to give companies insight into how to better serve customers. …data liquidity or a data lake alone doesn’t power better customer interactions. Analysis of that data is what allows companies to learn what is happening with customers and tailor experiences to become more seamless, intuitive, and friction-free proactively.”
Companies that focus on customer satisfaction reap huge financial benefits. A McKinsey survey of US retail banking customers found that at the banks with the highest degree of reported customer satisfaction, deposits grew 84 percent faster than at the banks with the lowest satisfaction ratings.
Research makes the case for prioritizing CX, even in challenging economic climates. In a roundup of customer experience facts by Forbes, 65% of consumers say they love fewer than three brands and 66% have said they will never again choose a brand after a bad experience. If you don’t have a plan and a complementary technology stack that makes it easy to manage customer journeys in real-time, it’s going to be difficult to keep up with the onward march of customer expectations for excellence each and every time.
For most companies, the greatest asset, behind employees, is data. Both USAA and Navy Federal Credit Union receive praise for personalizing experiences and offers. Solid personalization requires data. Another top CX brand from the list, Chewy.com, sent out personalized holiday cards to customers - all were different from one other, demonstrating how well they knew each customer and their buying habits.
Tractor Supply, a newbie to the list, put mobile devices that displayed customer data, including insights from their loyalty program, into the hands of employees. They can see details on their buying preferences, animals and properties in real time, enabling them to extend more personalized and helpful service experiences.
According to Gartner®, close to 97 percent of data is unused and languishing inside organizations. These three superstar brands show how unlocking and sharing data across departments and platforms, especially with those in client-facing roles, transforms CX.
As consumers increasingly expect a myriad of different services to come through a single digital door, many enterprises will need to rely on an ecosystem of partners. Partner data is just as valuable as internal data and needs to be flowing into the data lake, too.
[Brands] should also establish robust links with partner ecosystems to support instantaneous data exchange.
To future-proof CX delivery and leverage AI to identify trends, automate tasks and provide relevant recommendations and suggestions, brands need to access all of their customer data from multiple sources and platforms.
Harvard Business Review summarizes it this way: “Intelligent experience engines are not built just at the highest level of an end-to-end experience…. They must also be surgically focused on micro-goals—positive individual moments that compose the total experience—and ensure that all those goals get stitched together.”
When CIOs were surveyed in early 2023, they were more focused on investing in automation than generative AI, but that changed in six months. Nearly half of firms are now using generative AI in pilots (45%) or full production (10%). Etsy is one, using AI to better understand the context around what customers are looking for in their search and to detect and remove non-handmade items.
Of course, AI comes with its own cautions, as most of us have undoubtedly read about. Responsible use of AI, from the OvationCXM perspective, involves utilizing it to empower internal teams first. The use cases are incredibly powerful, enabling things like summarizations of cases, customers and journeys to save time when frontline employees are helping customers. Or analytics that highlight specific areas in journeys that need improvement. Or insights that help teams build journeys, step by step, in the most optimal and effective progression so customers can best meet their goals. It’s these inward-facing use cases that CIOs are often choosing first, where risk is minimal but efficiency is maximized, delivering impressive business results.
Whenever you give employees tools to do their jobs more easily, especially in challenging customer service roles, you have happier employees who provide consistently stronger service to customers. Capabilities like Agent assist or copilot, where AI is used to deliver knowledge and recommendations to teams, can lead to efficiency gains of 30% in our experience. Summarizations, which replace the need for manual notes, can save 27 minutes per agent per day, an 8.3% efficiency gain.
Our CXMEngine has infused generative AI capabilities into the platform to power customer service efficiency and automation. From case, customer and journey summarizations to precise knowledge delivery to automations and recommended next-best actions, AI is helping teams do their jobs better with less effort.
Watch an example of just how quickly a customer issue can be resolved by using AI-powered summarizations effectively to empower employees.
CXMEngine is an all-in-one CX management platform, infused horizontally with AI, that unlocks data silos that hide customer interaction and operational data within an organization and across its ecosystem, This data can be used to orchestrate and manage more personalized, ideal customer journeys and powers AI insights, automations and recommendations to turbo-charge operational efficiency while elevating customer satisfaction.
As a result, clients of OvationCXM experience profound business results in a short time, such as KeyBank, which turned its merchant services line of business into a profit center in just 13 months. Other results are lower churn rates, improved Net Promoter Scores and employee satisfaction scores, and revenue growth. Request a demo to learn more!