Voice Of The Consumer Not Leveraged

According to a new study by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, with Satmetrix, 58% of the 480 executives surveyed said their companies do not compensate any employees or executives based on customer loyalty, satisfaction improvements or analytics. 38% said their companies have no programs in place to track or propagate positive word of mouth among customers, and only 29% said their companies rate highly in their ability to handle and resolve customer problems or complaints.

Senior marketers admit their companies are failing to take decisive, company-wide action to integrate customer voice and experience into key business and marketing processes, says the report. The study underscores critical deficiencies in the way companies measure, optimize and leverage customer experience to drive loyalty, improve brand value and increase business performance and growth, including:

  • Insufficient availability and aggregation of real-time customer experience data across touch points that should be shared across the organization
  • Poor use of customer interactions to collect insights and intelligence or maximize up-sell and advocacy opportunities
  • Lack of Internet processes and systems to track online word of mouth and drive customer advocacy
  • Intermittent or deficient monitoring of customer experience that fails to provide true and timely insights into problems and opportunities
  • Too few compensation programs tied to customer experience, loyalty and satisfaction gains

CMO Council executive director, Donovan Neale-May, says "Customer experience is one of the most critical determinants of brand strength and business growth... we are missing a major opportunity to turn customer pain into competitive gain... through better use of web and contact center technologies and processes."

Survey data shows that most companies are not taking advantage of opportunities to drive company-wide performance improvement and business growth:

  • Only 38% of companies gather customer insight from customer engagement situations
  • Just 32% look for ways to turn problems into new sales opportunities
  • Only 15% introduce new products or services to further monetize the relationship
  • Merely 17% use the opportunity to identify and cultivate potential customer champions and advocates

Although 34% of respondents said their companies have made no changes to the way they track and analyze customer experience in recent years:

  • 45%  of respondents say their companies have taken steps to better integrate and analyze customer data
  • 39% said they have increased personalization and intimacy in their customer communications
  • 20% say they have embraced intelligent Internet analytics

18% are capturing real-time information at the "point of pain."

Nearly two-thirds of companies do not have a formal Voice of Customer program in place, and other key findings of the study include:

  • 13% of companies have deployed real-time systems to collect, analyze and distribute customer feedback
  • 74% say they receive customer feedback via e-mail, only 23 percent say they track and measure the volume and nature of these messages.
  • 14.5% track word of mouth on the Internet
  • 12% are using a word-of-mouth marketing platform to drive online customer advocacy

Laura Brooks, Ph.D. and vice president of research for Satmetrix, concludes that "Companies must become more... committed to leveraging... customer experience as a key business metric... but measurement is not an end in itself... companies need to commit... to understanding the key determinants of their score... to improve their customer experience competitiveness."

For more information about the Giving Customer Voice More Volume study, please visit the CMO Council here.

4 comments about "Voice Of The Consumer Not Leveraged ".
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  1. Michael Kremin from NeoGen Digital, February 3, 2009 at 10:19 a.m.

    I am not surprised by these statistics. Large corporations often outsource their call centers, which then creates a disconnect between the actual customer and the company. Additionally, call center budgets are frequently pushed to the lowest cost available - you get what you pay for. It makes one believe that all the marketing team receives is a statistical report with the accompanying graphs, which gets passed up the management chain.

    In my experience, few companies follow-up on negative survey feedback. Many banks, retailers, etc. offer a sweepstakes incentive for responding to a survey (usually printed on the store receipt). Any negative feedback should prompt an immediate dialog with the customer. We all know how much more difficult it is to acquire a new customer versus please an existing one.

  2. Sean Gibson from Bite Communications, February 3, 2009 at 12:44 p.m.

    Voice of Customer program sounds a little Kafkaesque, but like the concept of channeling all customer feedback into one analytics program or department, providing insight based on all customer (and partner) input. Trick is to get quick actionable intel out of this. We've started regular NPP/NPS discussions, as well as more in-depth questionnaires, but as a small consulting service this should suffice.

  3. Joe Jacobs, February 3, 2009 at 1:27 p.m.

    To show you the arrogance of corporate America towards the consumers it purports to serve, I offer the following example.

    I own a 1994 Toyota Xtra Cab 4WD pickup which I love. At the time it hit 150,000 miles, I wanted to take it in for the recommended maintenance. I drove to the dealership and had the Service Writer give me an estimate as the work to be done was quite extensive. It came to $1,010. I decided to bring it in a month after that so I could save a little more against the bill so as not to put so much on my credit card, if any at all.

    I specifically told him to estimate on the high side as I wanted no surprises on my eventual bill.

    4 weeks to the day I brought my rig in. When I came to pick it up late that afternoon, the same Service Rep handed me a bill for $1,775.00.

    When he saw the stunned look on my face, he asked what was wrong so I reviewed our earlier estimation meeting. He took the bill back and said that perhaps he could make some adjustments. I offered to go home and retrieve his estimate in HIS HANDWRITING so he could see, but he said I didn't need to. He handed me back the bill 'adjusted' to $1,075.00... which I paid.

    That year, the dealership received the Toyota Corporate award for Service Excellence.

    Not being stupid, I know that means a basis of sales dollars for the award, NOT customer satisfaction excellence.

    I note with interest that Toyota had the first quarterly loss in its history in December.

  4. Brian Lunde from Sana Tyo Marketing, February 5, 2009 at 11:08 a.m.

    Folks, be a little careful jumping to conclusions from this study. If you look at the demographics of the respondents, it's a study of small services businesses: 62% of the respondents work for firms with $250MM or less in revenue, and 42% are in industries classified as "Business & professional services," "Software & IT," and "Marketing & advertising." Only 11% of respondents - that would be about 53 people - work for firms with more than $5BB in revenue, which is Fortune 500 size. These results cannot be used to draw conclusions about the behavior of large enterprises.

    That said, I still agree that mid-size and large enterprises could do much, much better not only in customer measurement, but even more importantly in integrating customer insight throughout their core business processes.

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