When was the last time a company made you feel happy?

As a Researcher on Forrester’s Customer Experience team (CxP), it’s a question I think of often.  Because while advertisements may make us giggle and great products and brands tickle our hearts, all that effort can be rendered meaningless with a customer experience fumble. 

We’ve asked executives how important they think improving customer experience is: 96% said it was “very important” to “critical.”  But there are indications customer experience is only improving at a laggard pace.  Principal Analyst Moira Dorsey’s recent report, “Best And Worst Of Cross-Channel Design, 2007,” evaluated the experiences at 16 companies.  The result? None of the 16 companies received even a passing grade.

Along with written research, Forrester has developed a set of methodologies for evaluating various levels of the customer experience: Web Site Review, Cross-Channel Review, Brand Review, Kiosk Review, and recently a Blog Review.  These methodologies build on the basis of Forrester’s report “Scenario Design,” which says: “No experience is inherently good or bad, it can only be judged by looking at how well it helps customers achieve their goals.”

Customer Experience will be a part of the conversation at Forrester’s April Marketing Forum, highlighted by Principal Analyst Kerry Bodine’s second-day keynote speech: "How To Deliver A Great Customer Experience."  For a sneak peak at what Kerry will talk about, check out her report “Top 10 Ways To Improve Your Web Site User Experience.”

As we move closer to the Marketing Forum, Julie Katz and I will continue to blog about key discussion points here, and we’d love your input.  For now, a few questions:  What does customer experience mean to you, and to your organization? How do you think about it, improve it, and measure it?