Examining Massive Decline in Customer Experience (Ratings)

In the 2016 Temkin Experience Ratings (TxR), we found that the average ratings for all 20 industries declined between 2015 and 2016 (see graphic). Here are some observations:

  • Across the 20 industries, TxR dropped by an average of 5.2 points between 2015 and 2016.
  • Three industries dropped by less than 4 points (banks, software, and wireless carriers), while five dropped by more than 6 points (investment firms, auto dealers, airlines, rental cars, and health plans).
  • Hotels are the only industry to improve since 2014.
  • Of the 12 industries that have been in the ratings for all six years, five have declined from 2011 (Internet Service Providers declined the most, down 7 points). Banks and computers improved the most since 2011 (up 5 points).
  • The percentage of good and excellent companies dropped from 37% in 2015 to 18% in 2016.
  • Of the 271 companies in both the 2015 and 2016 TxR, 85% declined by 1-point or more, while 6% increased by 1-point or more.
  • Coventry Health Care, Con Edison, True Value, Consumers Energy, and Fox Rent A Car had the highest level of improvement in TxR between 2015 and 2016.
  • Volkswagen, Fairfield Inn, Fujitsu, Commonwealth Edison, Humana, BMW dealers, and Bed, Bath & Beyond had the largest decline in TxR between 2015 and 2016.


What’s going on?

As I mentioned last year when we saw our first major decline (10 out of 19 industries dropped), the issue has to do with consumer perceptions. Companies aren’t getting worse at CX. As a matter of fact, our data shows that large companies are putting more effort into CX and are actually getting better.

This year, something else seems to have kicked in as well. It looks like there’s a widespread decline in consumer sentiment, as you’ll see when we publish this year’s Temkin Well-Being Index.

What should you do about it? 

Forget the noise about the overall decline, there’s nothing you can do about consumer attitudes. But with consumers comparing your company to the best companies across all industries, you probably need to set your CX sights a bit higher. Keeping up with mediocre peers is a losing strategy.

As the gap between customer expectations and existing CX grows, there will be more opportunities to improve CX and expand your business. But only some companies will be able to take advantage of this growing CX thirst; others will see an exodus of increasingly disappointed customers. Choose your path.

The bottom line: Hopefully consumers will feel more positive next year!


Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

2 thoughts on “Examining Massive Decline in Customer Experience (Ratings)”

  1. Bruce — Important finding. What does it mean. Tracy’s Value of Market Leaders is still a valid theory. Excelling at CX is the leader’s differentiator but that does not ease the pressure be to at least at peer parity with their competitors — still need to innovate and to manage operations to reduce cost and improve bottom line.

  2. As a CX leader I always enjoy these rankings and its a bit disappointing to see this trend for ’16. Speaking from hospitality, we’ve had recorded occupancy rates which puts a strain on hotel staff to deliver optimal CX. Then the positive economic conditions have led to increased staff turnover as well. And in travel I would argue that consumer expectations are growing at a higher rate than most other industries. Despite all this, hotel companies are making big bets on CX and its mostly paying off as evidenced by the overall improvement in the CX index since 2014. But its still selfishly disappointing to see the decline from ’15 to ’16. As you said we really just need to set the bar higher. And I think we all often need to focus a little more on consistency and truly embedding something before just moving on to the next cool thing.

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