/4Best Experience Brands 2013The experience gapJosh McCallI’m not here to declare, sky-is-falling style, thatexperience is a lost cause—far from it. Yes,the experience gap is a real and significantchallenge. But for those marketers brave enoughto take an honest look at how their experiencesare performing—and ambitious enough to dosomething about it—there’s hope.There’s also a return on investing in experience.Studies suggest people will reward brands thatunderstand their experiences as differentiatorsand that invest accordingly. Forrester research,for example, reveals a correlation betweengood customer experiences and likelihood torecommend, repurchase and stay loyal to brandsacross 14 industry sectors.For all these reasons—the importance ofexperience to customers, its connection to brandsuccess, the gaps between expectation anddelivery—we at Jack Morton continue to investin research that helps clients understand not onlywhy experience is valuable but how to makeit better. This year’s Best Experience Brandsstudy, like our earlier research, represents ourcommitment to providing data and insights thatwill help companies close that experience gap.We believe in experience brands—and we aimto make more of them. I hope you’ll find thepages that follow not only interesting but usefulto your experience planning. Let me know whatyou think, and look for more Best ExperienceBrands findings and studies in the months andyears to come.Josh McCall is Chairman & CEO ofJack Morton WorldwideThere’s an experience gap today.Experience is important to customers—and socommon sense suggests it must be to brands,too. But study after study reveals that brands justaren’t living up to customer expectations.Some years ago, for example, Bain & Companysurveyed customers of 362 companies.According to the Harvard Business Review,“Only 8% of them described their experiencesas superior, yet 80% of the companies surveyedbelieve that the experience they have beenproviding is indeed superior.” From an 80%assumed superiority to 8% actual delivery:that’s some gap.More recently, in 2012 Forrester asked customersto rank 154 large North American brandsaccording to the strength of their experience.Only 8% fell into the “excellent” experiencecategory. Almost two out of three (61%) offeredexperiences that customers considered “okay”,“poor” or “very poor”. Again, that reveals a bigexperience gap, with the majority of brandseither failing to differentiate or disappointingcustomer expectations.Only 8% ofexperiencesare rated“excellent”.