Forrester’s 2018 US Banking Customer Experience Index Shows That CX Is Stagnating

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Customer experience leaders grow revenue faster than CX laggards, drive higher brand preference, and can charge more for their products. Based on a survey of more than 110,000 US adult customers in 2018, Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) methodology measures how well a brand’s customer experience strengthens the loyalty of its customers so that it can reap those benefits.

In this year’s Banking Customer Experience Index, we used this methodology to rank and measure the CX quality of 28 US retail banking brands — 18 multichannel banks and 10 direct banks.

After analyzing the new data, we found that:

  • Navy Federal Credit Union maintains its position at the top of multichannel banking. For the third year in a row, Navy Federal tops the US multichannel bank ranking. It had the highest percentage of customers having effective, easy, and emotionally positive experiences of all the banks we measured in the US CX Index. As the largest credit union in the US, Navy Federal is known for its low rates and exceptional service.
  • USAA retains the No. 1 spot among direct banks. For the third year in a row, USAA tops the US direct bank ranking. It had the highest percentage of customers having effective, easy, and emotionally positive experiences of all the direct banks we measured in the US CX Index. The company continues to be laser-focused on delivering great member experiences.
  • Stagnation in most banks’ scores means customers don’t think experiences are improving. While many of the bank brands’ scores fluctuated in 2018, the average scores for both the direct and multichannel banks were exactly the same as in 2017. Many banks’ scores are bunched up together in the middle, indicating that lack of differentiation is also a problem.
  • The three dimensions of CX quality differ by channel. Conventional wisdom states that customers prefer digital experiences. As a result, companies race to create entirely digital experiences to entice customers away from contact centers and branches. That’s a mistake. Our data shows that the real situation is more complex.

The Keys To Achieving CX Leadership In Banking

A key component of driving revenue by providing great experiences is understanding which drivers and emotions most prominently affect your brand. In the banking industry specifically, Forrester’s 2018 CX Index revealed that:

  • Customer service is the most important driver category for banks’ CX. Fortunately for banks, 70% of customers said that multichannel banks do a good job at customer service — the same proportion as for the direct banks. This means that the bar is high for making it easy to reach a person who can resolve problems and resolve them quickly, making it hard to differentiate.
  • Banks don’t do as well at making customers feel respected. Compared to customer service, fewer customers think banks do a good job at respecting them. Given that making customers feel respected is the second most important driver for banks’ CX, more attention needs to be given to making customers feel valued and secure.
  • Feeling valued is one of the top emotions that increases loyalty for banks. Contrary to conventional wisdom, making customers happy is not the most effective tactic to make them loyal. What emotions do lead to customer loyalty? For multichannel banks, it’s making customers feel appreciated, respected, and valued. For direct banks, it’s feeling appreciated, confident, and valued. And feeling valued has a greater impact on loyalty for multichannel banks over direct banks: Among customers who feel valued, 77% of multichannel bank customers plan to stay with the bank, compared to 64% of direct banking customers.

To learn more about the specific drivers of a great customer experience for banking, and more detailed analysis of the results, check out Forrester’s “The US Banking Customer Experience Index, 2018” report.

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