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Firms Missing Opportunities To Retain, Win Customers: CMO Report
January 26, 2009
 
By Brendan B. Read, Senior Contributing Editor
A new report by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council reveals that a majority of 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.
 
This astounding admission comes in the face of overwhelming agreement industry-wide of the importance of customer experience in retain and attracting customers, which have become even more critical in a slowing economy.
 
The study, sponsored by Satmetrix, entitled “Giving Customer Voice More Volume,” reported that 56 percent of over 400 executives surveyed said their companies have no programs in place to track or propagate positive word of mouth among customers. In addition, only 30 percent said their companies rate highly in their ability handle and resolve customer problems or complaints. A surprising 59 percent of said their firms do not compensate employees or executives based on customer loyalty, satisfaction improvements or analytics.
 
Other key findings include:

*          Two-thirds of companies do not have Voice of Customer program in place

*          Only 12.9 percent of companies have deployed real-time systems to collect, analyze and distribute customer feedback

*          While 74.6 percent say they receive customer feedback via e-mail, only 23 percent say they track and measure the volume and nature of these messages

*          Customer voice has gone online, but only 14.4 percent track word of mouth on the Internet
 
*          Only 11.5 percent are using a word-of-mouth marketing platform to drive online customer advocacy
 
Customer listening, learning and leveling are critical qualities that need to be part of an institutionalized corporate culture, notes the CMO Council. Yet the survey data demonstrates that most companies are not taking advantage of these opportunities to drive company-wide performance improvement and business growth.  Instead most companies treat customer interactions around service situations and incidents only as a problem that needs quick resolution:

*          Only 36.6 percent of companies gather customers’ insights from customer engagement situations

*          Just 33 percent look for ways to turn problems into new sales opportunities, and only 16 percent introduce new products or services to further monetize the relationships

*          Merely 15 percent use the opportunity to identify and cultivate potential customer champions and advocates

Most senior marketers are clearly aware of the importance of the customer experience.  83.3 percent of respondents said it is either “essential” or “increasingly important” in driving brand advocacy and business performance.  83.6 percent said positive customer experiences and word of mouth have helped their brands and businesses grow.
 
At the same time marketers are aware of the consequences when customers’ dealings with their firms have been less than optimal. 45.8 percent admitted that high-profile negative customer experiences had at some time compromised their brands.
 
Some firms are trying to improve their customer experience. While only 31.7 percent rate their company’s commitment to customer listening highly, but another 34.7 percent say it is “getting better.” 44.8 percent of respondents say their companies have taken steps to better integrate and analyze customer data. Another 38.5 percent said they have increased personalization and intimacy in their customer communications. Approximately 21 percent say they have embraced intelligent Internet analytics and are capturing real time information at the “point of pain.”
 
The gap between inaction and awareness could be explained by what the CMO study calls “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
 
“Customer experience is one of the most critical determinants of brand strength and business growth, “points out CMO Council executive director Donovan Neale-May. “Yet most organizations and senior marketers suffer from major blind spots and gaps in the way they interact, handle and respond to customer issues or problems.
 
“CMOs must assume ownership for the customer experience and establish enterprise-wide measures and disciplines to ensure continuous improvement.  We are missing a major opportunity to turn customer pain into competitive gain at every touch point through better use of web and contact center technologies and processes.”


Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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