The council, whose study, "Giving Customer Voice More Volume," surveyed around 500 senior marketers at major corporations, found that only 33% of survey respondents said their companies claim to be good at handling customer complaints.
Of the executives who responded to the survey, only 23% said their companies track or measure customer emails, and only 17% use that feedback to identify potential customer advocates.
And 59% of marketing officers surveyed by the council said their companies do not compensate any employees or executives based on customer loyalty, satisfaction improvements or analytics.
Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, says the results are troubling because the "customer custodian" function "is one of the most critical--in fact, the most critical role a CMO can play in an organization: to own every facet of listening, learning, interacting, engaging, and optimizing the relationship with the customer, and understanding where the attrition, pain and aggravation is, and doing this in real time. It is mind-boggling to me that the level of attention to this is not what it should be, and fragmented in terms of who owns it."
The report also says the majority of respondents' companies have no programs in place to track or propagate positive word of mouth among customers. And only a third of respondents said their companies rate highly their ability to handle and resolve customer problems or complaints. The report says only 16% of those surveyed monitor online message boards and social networking sites.
"The chief customer officer should be the CMO; if the CMO gives someone the role of the chief customer officer, they aren't doing their job," argues Neale-May.
He says his main concern is fragmentation of ownership of responsibility and of actual consumer data within companies. "Most companies don't even have systems in place to monitor feedback or engage consumers," he says. "Especially when these large companies are so siloed that there is ... a lack of access to data and integration of data."
Neale-May argues that the study shows that marketers tend to view customer services reactively, as a function for resolving a problem, not enough as an opportunity to engage or interact. Only about 37% of companies surveyed gather customer insight from customer engagement situations, per the firm. Only 15% use such situations to identify and cultivate potential customer champions and advocates. Only a third reported that they look for ways to turn problems into new sales opportunities, and only 16% introduce new products or services to further monetize the relationship.
Per Neale-May, the council is undertaking a global study focusing on providers of commodity services like cable, phone, Internet service, and landlines that are being forced into improving customer service because of digital convergence. "You never need to use your phone now," he says. "All interactions and socializing--things that were done via phone--are done across the Web now, so service providers are paying more attention to customers, from back end to new service. The question is, what are these service providers doing to be more competitive as new emerging digital models and infrastructures start to suck business away from them?" he says.
Neale-May says DirecTV is an example of a service provider focusing on customer data, so call center reps have a better idea of what their relationship with a customer should be, and what TV viewing habits they have. "It's all about leveraging the touchpoints, or engagement with customers--more than just taking an order and introducing another offer," he says.