Friday, January 28, 2011
Comparing Brands' Customer Experience
John Bernoff of Forrester presented a topline summary of his company’s
most recent Customer Experience Index survey in the latest January 17 issue of AdAge. As
part of the study over 7,700 consumers were asked to rate 154 companies. The resulting scores are based
upon three questions: 1) How well did they meet your needs? 2) How easy were they to do business with?, and 3) How enjoyable
were they to do business with? The report rated just 6% of brands as “excellent”.
They were Borders, Barnes & Noble, Kohl’s, Costco, Amazon, JC Penney, Walgreens, Target, BJ’s Wholesale
Club and USAA.
12:35 pm est
Mr. Bernoff states that “the way you treat
your customers-and the way they perceive you-makes all the difference in what they say to their friends”.
We have no disagreement with that except that of course that Forrester’s survey doesn’t appear to ask questions
about what people say to friends, relatives, or co-workers about a brand. More importantly
however, the mix of corporations that were rated as “excellent” by Forrester would suggest that their questions
and their conclusion overlook a key consideration.
Consumer attitudes and behaviors are certainly in part driven by service, but they are also driven
by a multitude of other experiential components including cost. Customer retention, growth in
share of wallet, and positive word of mouth are the outcome of conscious and sub-conscious calculations of total VALUE.
Forrester would be better served in prefacing their questions with “For the money” (e.g. “For the
money, how well did they meet your needs?”). Let’s face it, Costco and Kohl’s are fine
stores, but checkout lines are typically long, and associates who can answer questions are in short supply. That
would not be acceptable at an upscale retailer like Whole Foods, but Costco and Kohl’s are discounters
and some consumers (even if not asked to do so) are weighing that factor into their response.