The Pulse

Study Shows Great Customer Experiences Are Rewarded by Main Street and Wall Street

Customer experience leading firms outperform laggards by a nearly 3-to-1 margin in shareholder return

January 15, 2019 — HARTFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Watermark Consulting has released its latest cross-industry Customer Experience (CX) ROI Study, along with several sector-specific editions focused on the Airline, Insurance and Wealth & Asset Management industries.

The study, which examines the aggregate stock performance of Customer Experience Leading and Lagging firms, provides compelling evidence for the business value of a great customer experience.

Over the past eleven years, the study’s cross-industry portfolio of Customer Experience Leaders delivered a total cumulative return that was nearly three times that of the Laggards. The industry-specific analyses showed a similar pattern, with Leaders far outperforming Laggards.

The value of experience

“There are obviously many factors that influence a company’s stock price,” noted Jon Picoult, Founder & Principal of Watermark Consulting. “However,” he continued, “the results of this study – covering over a decade of data – indicate that, over the long-term, a great customer experience helps build business value, while a poor customer experience erodes it.”

Picoult went on to stress that latter point, noting that Customer Experience Laggards grossly underperformed the broader market: “This study underscores not just the benefits of customer experience excellence, but also the risks of customer experience mediocrity. Many companies excel at frustrating their customers, and what we’re seeing here is, eventually, they pay the price for that.”

While customer experience has garnered greater C-Suite attention in recent years, companies still often resist investing in it, viewing the benefits as soft and intangible, the payoff uncertain. The Watermark study suggests those investment judgements could be very shortsighted.

As for Customer Experience Leading firms, what do they do differently to achieve their outperformance? The study identified some basic operating principles that help distinguish these companies from their competition:

There are obviously many factors that influence a company’s stock price, however, over the long-term, a great customer experience helps build business value, while a poor customer experience erodes it..

  • They aim for more than customer satisfaction
  • They nail the basics, and then deliver pleasant surprises
  • They understand that great experiences are intentional and emotional
  • They shape customer impressions through cognitive science
  • They recognize the link between the customer and employee experience

White papers describing the study’s results (and further explaining the aforementioned secrets to CX Leaders’ success) can be obtained using the links below:

  • CX ROI Study (Cross-Industry Edition):
  • CX ROI Study (Airline Industry):
  • CX ROI Study (Insurance Industry):
  • CX ROI Study (Wealth Management Industry):



About Watermark Consulting
Watermark Consulting is a leading customer experience advisory firm that helps companies impress their customers and inspire their employees. Watermark has worked with some of the world’s foremost brands, helping organizations capitalize on the power of loyalty, both in the marketplace and in the workplace. To learn more about Watermark’s consulting services, educational workshops or conference keynotes, please visit