In many ways, digital technologies have had polar-opposite impacts for consumers and companies:

For consumers, life has been simplified and empowered by devices such as smartphones and innovations such as social media.

For companies, on the other hand, business has been made more complex by the need to manage many more channels and points of interaction—in-store, on the phone, online, e-mail, social media, and mobile apps, to name a few. With so many channels, platforms, and devices to get right, companies frequently struggle to craft effective customer pathways and make the most of customer interactions. Worse yet, they have difficulty defining the right metrics to measure success.

Customers spread the word about their experiences—whether positive or negative—far and wide among friends and family. Social media extends and magnifies the impact of each advocate—and critic. Conversations about the customer experience boost financial performance.

Research by The Boston Consulting Group, which most recently assessed the experiences of more than 227,000 customers with 650 brands in eight countries and seven industries, shows definitively that brands with high levels of advocacy significantly outperform those that are heavily criticized. In our sample, the top-line growth of the highest- and lowest-scoring brands differed by 27 percentage points on average.In addition to assessing how advocacy fuels growth, we have identified the precise rational and emotional factors that shape the customer experience:

value for money,

customer service,

product satisfaction,

and emotional connection.

The mix of the four factors varies by company and industry, but in industries that involve ongoing interaction between consumers and companies (as opposed to the simple purchase and use or consumption of a product), the customer service component ranks high in importance; between 24% and 30% of customers in retail banking, car insurance, and telecommunications, for example, consider it important.

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