Forrester’s CX Index, based on a survey of about 120,000 U.S. online adult consumers, measures and ranks more than 300 U.S. brands across 21 industries to identify how well a brand’s customer experience bolsters its customer loyalty.
Of the 315 brands ranked this year, 36 traditional retail brands were analyzed to gauge how consumers perceive their retail customer experience — both in-store and digital — and how customer experience drives loyalty.
BJ’s finished highest among food, drug and mass retailers, coming in at No. 6, up from No. 15 in 2016 and just ahead of No. 7 Costco Wholesale this year at No. 7, down a notch from No. 6 last year.
Rite Aid had the biggest improvement in Forrester’s 2017 CX Index for the food, drug and mass arena, climbing from No. 31 in 2016 to No. 18 this year. Rival drug chain Walgreens edged up to No. 11 in 2017 from No. 14 last year, while CVS Pharmacy dropped to No. 21 this year from No. 16 in 2016.
Walmart rose three spots to No. 35 from No. 38 last year, while its Sam’s Club warehouse chain dipped two places to No. 13 from No. 11. Rival Target fell one spot to No. 24, and fellow mass merchant Kmart rose one spot to No. 36.
Forrester found that the average CX Index score declined by one point this year.
“Average customer experience quality was down slightly, leading to several shifts in rankings: 20 retailers’ scores declined, and 15 increased,” Forrester stated of the 36 retailers examined. “While these changes were minor and do not signal a profound shift in the industry, Rite Aid is the only brand that saw a significant increase, which was less than half of the biggest decliner’s decrease in 2017.”
The top emotions driving customer loyalty in traditional retail are feeling appreciated, respected and valued, Forrester noted.
“For example, 91% of customers who feel valued plan to stay with the brand, and 89% plan to spend more,” the research firm explained. “This proves that emotion affects retailers’ bottom line: a one-point improvement in a CX Index score can lead to an incremental $244 million in revenue for big-box retailers.”
PetSmart came in No. 1 overall in customer experience for 2017, followed by Nordstrom, Hallmark Cards, Neiman Marcus and Hobby Lobby. Rounding out the top 10, after BJ’s (No. 6) and Costco (No. 7) were Bed Bath & Beyond, Michael’s and Ikea.
The largest gainer on the list was Toys R Us, which jumped to No. 15 in 2017 from No. 30 last year. The biggest decliner was Barnes & Noble, falling to No. 19 from No. 1.
Only the top four retailers on the list — PetSmart, Nordstorm, Hallmark Cards and Neiman Marcus – had CX Index scores of “Good” (75-84). The rest had CX Index scores of “Okay” (65-74) except for Kmart, which despite a one-place gain in the ranking turned in a score of “Poor” (55-64).