Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) launches a new Customer Experience Index (CXi) for China today at the Summit For Marketing & Strategy Professionals in Shanghai. The CXi measures the customer experience standards for 46 firms in four different industries: retail, airline, hotel, and banking, based on a survey of 4,500 online consumers in metropolitan China. Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, Tmall, and China Merchants Bank split the top of the rankings.

The study surveyed the respondents’ interactions with the companies, gauging the usefulness, usability, and enjoyment of those experiences. “On average, there is room for differentiation in the area of customer experience as only 9% of the firms were able to achieve an ‘excellent’ rating,” says Forrester Researcher Samantha Jaddou. “Firms need to put customer experience initiatives near the top of their 2014 strategic plans in order to win, serve, and retain their customers.”

Key findings from the CXi report include:

  • Companies in China are doing OK or better. Two-thirds of the companies in this year’s China CXi earned a rating of “good,” and about a quarter scored in the “OK” range. However, only 9% of firms truly differentiated with an “excellent” rating.
  • Leaders performed consistently in all three underlying components of the CXi. The four leaders — Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, Tmall, and China Merchants Bank — swept the top spots in each of the three CXi components: meeting needs, being easy to do business with, and being enjoyable to do business with.
  • Metro Chinese online consumers embrace online retail experiences. Retailers had the highest average score among the four industries measured. Forrester’s list of retailers is composed of eCommerce platform providers, pure online retailers, pure offline retailers, and online/offline retailers. Four of the five retailers with the highest overall CXi scores only sell online — Ikea is the only company among them with both an online and offline presence.
  • High-income groups and technology optimists rate their experiences better. High-income groups rated companies as much as 14 points higher than their middle-income peers. Similarly, technology optimists rated companies as much as 36 points higher than technology pessimists and, in general, gave companies higher CXi scores overall compared with technology pessimists.