A closer look at the components of a strong CX shows that emotional connections with customers are difficult to establish.
By Bill Hanifin
Rochester NY based grocer, Wegmans, took top honors in the 8th Annual Temkin Experience Ratings. The 2018 report was released last week, and Supermarkets registered the highest Customer Experience (CX) scores in the survey, continuing a streak that began in 2012.
The difference in this year’s survey was that Wegmans, a grocer, not only took the top ranking in its category, but also topped all brands across all categories in the survey – 318 companies across 20 industries.
Temkin creates its ranking through survey of 10,000 US consumers, asking them to evaluate their experiences across three dimensions. The three components of evaluation include Success, Effort, and Emotion. To learn more about how the survey was conducted and how Temkin defines the three key elements, you can download the report here and read about the dimensions here.
Temkin’s point-of-view on Customer Experience is that customers evaluate their experiences based on perception. They distinguish their perception-based metric from Net Promoter Score which they describe as an attitudinal measure. You can read the finer points of this argument here.
Overall, the Temkin Experience Ratings were lower in 2018 than in previous years. In this year’s report 44% of companies earned a rating of “good or better”, down from 51% in 2017. Temkin weights each of its three-dimensional components equally, and it was the Emotion scores that dragged down the averages this year.
This finding is interesting because the other two dimensions, Success and Effort are largely tied to operational and executional aspects of a brand’s delivery model.
- Success was formerly named “Functional” and measures the degree to which customers can accomplish their goals. I interpret this to mean that the brand gives the customer the opportunity to satisfy their needs. Opportunity in this case means that products and services are made available in a convenient setting with lots of choice and priced competitively
- Effort was previously labeled as “Accessible” and it measures the difficulty or ease by which customers can satisfy needs. This seems to be the executional part of the equation. Everything might look great to the customer until the point of engagement. If the ability to complete to search for items or complete a purchase is messy, this score will be low.
The Emotional component refers to how the customer feels when interacting with the brand. Temkin cites linkage between these interactions and brand promise. This correlates directly to the third pillar of my “Customer Loyalty Connection” model - “Brand Reinforcement”. To connect with the digitally informed customer of today, Loyalty programs need to work in context of the retailer's purchase experience, whether in-store or online. Loyalty programs offer a great opportunity to reinforce brand promises and an omni-channel approach to customer communications is the only way to reach the diversity of customers in your base.
Does the decline in Emotion scores mean that consumers are less willing to extend trust and make a so-called emotional commitment to a brand? Or, are the scores indicative of a market trend where brands are putting price and delivery over experience, leaving customers to adopt a more mercenary approach to shopping.
Loyalty Marketers need to pay attention to these findings. The industry liberally advances the idea that we are striving to make emotional connections with customers. We say this is important because emotional connections are the most durable tools brands can use to overcome service interruptions, create more brand “stickiness”, and higher retention levels.
Well, if that is the goal, the results are not there according to the Temkin study. Reading the Temkin report in depth is a good start, but we should turn quickly to look at our own delivery models and see what we can change to build trust with customers and in turn generate that elusive emotional connection.
Bill Hanifin is a regular Columnist, CEO of The Wise Marketer, and is a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional (CLMP).