Most brands are still rated OK to very poor when it comes to customer experience — 61% of brands received this rating in Forrester’s annual Customer Experience Index, just a slight improvement over 2012’s 63%. But, when examining the top performers across all industries, an interesting trend emerged this year: Marshalls took the top spot, one of 10 discount brands in the “excellent” scoring category (13 brands in total). “This trend suggests that as the US economy slowly improves, companies must strike the right balance between price and customer experience,” notes Forrester Analyst Megan Burns in a new blog post. Other brands providing superior customer experiences: Courtyard by Marriott, Target,, Costco, and USAA (bank).

Forrester’s sixth annual Customer Experience Index determines the quality of 154 large US brands by surveying more than 7,000 US consumers. Respondents are asked to select the companies they work with most in 14 different industries (including retail, hotels, banks, airlines, etc.) and answer three questions about each brand in regards to customer experience.

For the full research findings, see “The Customer Experience Index, 2013” Forrester Research report.