Monday, June 17, 2024

Customer Experience Hits Rock Bottom

Forrester Research recently released its annual Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) rankings. The results are dismal.   The chart below shows that the index has reached a new low.  

The scores probably do not surprise shoppers who have had some poor experiences lately.  On the other hand, you might be puzzled a bit given that many company leaders talk obsessively about customer obsession.   They appear to be talking the talk, but not walking the walk.  

Why might it be so difficult to elevate customer experience?  Here are a few hypotheses:

1.  Senior executives are extremely detached from the experiences of their everyday customers.  In fact, many of these executives live very different lifestyles than their average customers.  In short, they are out of touch.

2.  High employee turnover makes it difficult to maintain consistent customer service. 

3.  Company resource allocation processes are distorted.  It's often rather simple to quantify the return on investment from initiatives intended to reduce labor costs.  It's much more difficult to quantify the ROI when it comes to projects aimed at improving the customer experience.  Thus, programs aimed at cutting expenses get funded more easily.   

4.  Metrics drive behaviors in ways that harm customer experience. For example, one of my daughters once worked at a large national coffee shop chain.  One key metric focused on the time required to serve customers in the drive-thru lane.  The manager's focus on that metric caused employees to de-emphasize service to customers who came into the shop.   Frustration ensued for customers walking up to the counter. 

5.  Young people working in many retail locations have weak interpersonal skills, in large part due to the rise of the smartphone and social media platforms. During their childhoods, as Jonathan Haidt has eloquently argued, we have seen the smartphone cause a substantial decline in vitally important in-person interaction.  They never developed key skills that come from free play, in person, with other children.  

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