2020 marked a departure from the last several years when it came to Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™). Leaving behind the gloomy landscape of overall stagnation that we’ve observed since 2015, 2020 saw statistically significant advances by just over one-quarter of brands in our study.

We interviewed CX leaders at 11 of the brands that made gains. Nine of our interviewees told us about the central role of their measurement program or voice-of-the-customer (VoC) program in driving their gains. Many relied on Net Promoter Score (NPS) for a beacon metric, a transactional metric, or both. And even though most programs were survey-oriented, we also heard about text analysis of unstructured data to gauge sentiment around emerging issues.

For example, Allstate implemented closed-loop feedback through InMoment to enable real-time service recovery. Managers must reach out to dissatisfied customers and work to make things right, then use the data and feedback as a coaching opportunity for employees and to identify and solve for broader process and system improvement opportunities. That’s a powerful mechanism for creating continuous improvement that builds on itself over time.

Taking a slightly different approach, the CX team at Farmers Insurance taps into the potential of unstructured data such as free-form survey responses and call-center transcripts. To do this, they use a VoC tool by Clarabridge to analyze surveys and calls. The company also uses the tool to conduct sentiment and emotion analysis and gain real-time insight into its issues, then quantifies this with NPS.

We explore these results and others like them in our report, “How US Companies Improved Their CX Index Scores, 2020.” Our findings uncovered a consistent message: Improving the customer experience requires brands to adopt CX business discipline. To be clear, brands can only transform the quality of the experiences they deliver in a lasting way if they learn new skills and practice new activities, especially those around CX measurement.

Good luck on your own transformation journey!

Note: Net Promoter and NPS are registered service marks, and Net Promoter Score is a service mark, of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.