When I think about brands I like, they’re usually the brands that seem to know me the best. The shoe retailer that remembers my size and style preferences, and sends me a discount code for my birthday. The online pet supply store that lets me choose to auto-ship pet food at an interval I select, and emails me coupons for the specific brand I purchase. I tend to tell other people about those companies – maybe they also want pet food that arrives at their doorstep instead of going to the store for it. There’s an old adage that people only comment or review a company when it’s about something bad, but good reviews never get posted. I don’t think that’s quite true; I think when a company is neutral to its customer interactions, the customer doesn’t bother to review it. That company was simply forgettable to the customer. But when a company has excellent customer interactions, those customers remember and return to shop again – and recommend it to others.

However, Forrester’s recent report on customer experience (CX) quality shows that between 2016-2017, CX declined overall across the board, with losses broader and deeper than gains. Very few companies truly improved their customer interactions. Forrester found that many excellent scores died off, while the number of poor scores increased.

The reasons for this remain unclear. Are companies not funneling their energy into areas that affect customer experience? Do they assume it’s less important than it is? Are customers’ expectations outpacing the average company’s ability to provide a good experience? Are customers harder to impress or are companies taking them for granted?

Customer experience quality affects customer loyalty and customer retention, so B2C companies are missing out on a big opportunity. Giving customers a voice in how they are interacted with improves the likelihood that they maintain a channel of communication. In my two examples above, I was able to select specific email preferences that ensured I would only receive emails about items relevant to me. When I’m not given that choice, I tend to opt-out of communication entirely, and I’m not alone. But because the company valued my input and responded to it, they have a happy customer (and one who tells other people).