US brands struggled to deliver great customer experiences in 2023, leading Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) scores to drop for an unprecedented second year in a row. While two industries were able to beat the odds and achieve better results, most stumbled on their CX journey. Only 6% of brands saw a significant increase in CX quality, compared to 10% last year.

What Caused CX Quality To Drop In 2023?

Let’s start by backing up. Great customer experiences hit the mark on three key criteria: ease, effectiveness, and emotion. In last year’s US CX Index 2022, the score drop was predominately caused by a decrease in emotional performance. Brands struggled to provide emotionally satisfying experiences amid staffing shortages, shifting public health recommendations, and supply chain constraints.

2023 tells a different story. The average score dropped in all three key areas. Emotion decreased the least, however. Elite brands evoked an average of 29 positive emotions — including feeling happy, valued, and appreciated — for each negative emotion, such as frustration and annoyance. Delivering easy and effective experiences was tougher for brands. Companies are struggling to deliver great CX at scale in the middle of a talent-constrained recession. And as CX leaders know all too well, customer expectations constantly increase, regardless of macroeconomic conditions.

There is a bright spot. Two industries — luxury auto manufacturers and retailers — improved their industry-average CX score in 2023. Not unrelated is that these two industries were also the only ones that bucked the trend and improved the emotional quality of their experiences year over year.

Roadblocks To Customer Obsession Hurt CX Quality

Companies understand the value of customer obsession and delivering excellent customer experiences. Forrester survey data shows that more than 80% of business leaders list improving CX as a high priority. And leaders are catching on to the value of customer obsession — the number of US enterprise business leaders whose companies are customer-obsessed rose by 3 percentage points to 6%. This presages a modest turnaround in CX quality in 2024.

Yet customer obsession is still not getting the prioritization it deserves in most organizations. Some organizations confuse the related yet separate concepts of customer experience and customer obsession. Some leaders turn a blind eye to their lack of customer obsession because:

  • Customer obsession feels too big to initiate.
  • Customer obsession turns into a platitude to justify any business effort that they like.
  • Other leaders assign customer obsession internally but don’t support it.
  • Overthinking stifles progress. Striving for the perfect customer strategy or bemoaning regulations paralyzes companies at lower levels of customer-obsession maturity.

Keep Your Eye On The Multimillion-Dollar Prize

High-quality CX isn’t a nice-to-have — it’s a revenue driver. Even small improvements in CX quality can reduce an enterprise’s churn and increase its share of wallet, adding up to millions of dollars in revenue. Forrester’s CX Index provides the data and insights needed to harness this power and prioritize improvements that will drive maximum revenue. Learn more about the CX Index here. Current Forrester customers can explore the full results of this year’s US CX Index here.