Brands must focus on providing high quality customer experience (CX) to gain loyalty, but retailers are missing the mark: According to Forrester's US 2018 Customer Experience Index (CX Index), multichannel retailers' CX quality remained flat, and 36% of digital retailers' scores decreased significantly since last year. This article is copyright 2018 The Best Customer Guide.

Contrary to popular belief, making customers happy is not the single best way to achieve loyalty - feeling appreciated and confident are equally as important in the retail industry. According to Forrester's 2018 CX Index data, 86% of multichannel shoppers and 87% of digital shoppers who feel appreciated intend to spend more with the brand. This is a clear indication as to why understanding which emotions evoke loyalty matters.

Based on a survey of more than 110,000 US online adult consumers, Forrester's CX Index measures and ranks nearly 300 US brands across 19 industries to identify how well a brand's customer experience strengthens the loyalty of its customers. Of the 287 US brands ranked in 2018, 42 multichannel and 11 digital retailers were analyzed to determine how customers perceive their experiences and how CX drives loyalty.

Most notably, newcomer Trader Joe's claimed the top spot in multichannel retail, thanks to its ability to provide the most positive experiences of all 287 brands ranked. Costco Wholesale and Neiman Marcus also placed second and third on the multichannel list, while Home Shopping Network, QVC and Zappos.com were the three leaders for digital retailers.

"Few industries have felt disruption like retail, and many are choosing the wrong path forward because they're not focusing on the drivers that improve customer experience where it counts," Forrester Chief Research and Product Officer Cliff Condon said. "CX is directly linked to driving revenue - Forrester estimates that a 1-point improvement in a big-box retailer's CX Index score can lead to an incremental $244 million in revenue - so it's vital for retailers to identify what consumers want and invest in those elements that drive loyalty. Only then will retailers see an improvement in the CX quality that their customers now demand."