Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New Study Asks: What's in a Name?

Just because they know you doesn't mean they like you. Or so suggests a new CMO Council study. Research focused on business-to-business relationships in the tech sector suggests virtually no intersection between brand awareness and customer affinity. The names IT professionals most recognized -- HP, Dell, Microsoft, Google, IBM -- did not receive a corollating spot on the study's customer affinity index. The top positions went instead to NetApp, Juniper, InterSystems, Polycom and Synnex.More than a big brand, customers said they look for "competence, quality service and support."

More than a big brand, customers said they look for "competence, quality service and support."

Among key findings of the new study:

- Fifty-six percent of vendors perceive themselves as being extremely customer-centric, but only 12 percent of customers agree. An overwhelming majority of vendors—85 percent—are convinced that they are getting better at responding to customer needs, but 45 percent of customers disagree.

- More than half of customers surveyed described their relationships with vendors as “dependent and captive,” “struggling for common ground,” or “combative and adversarial.” When asked to describe their relationships with the channel, 45 percent of customers surveyed evaluated their channel relationships similarly.

- More than 30 percent of customer respondents said they would terminate relationships with companies that fail to gain their trust; 62 percent would scale back existing engagements, while 7 percent would no longer consider the vendor for future business.

- Co-innovation with customers is vital to building customer affinity. Nearly six out of 10 customers say co-innovation is extremely or very important, with another 30 percent agreeing that it is at least somewhat important. Customer responses indicated that collaborative, two-way conversations—followed by continuous improvement—build customer affinity.

- Vendors seem to understand that channel partners truly are partners in their success, and that going to market effectively with the channel is critical to maximizing their value to customers. Yet only 8 percent of vendor marketing respondents said they do an extremely good job of teaming with the channel to build stronger customer affinity.

Source: AdWeek

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