Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Customer Experience and Satisfaction Key in 2009

Despite overwhelming agreement on the importance of customer experience and word-of-mouth, 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, according to a new study by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council.

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

Customer listening, learning and leveling are critical qualities that need to be part of an institutionalized corporate culture, notes the CMO Council. Yet, 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 customer insight from customer engagement situations.

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

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

While companies have a long way to go in turning detractors into brand advocates, senior marketers are clearly aware of the importance of customer experience. In fact, 83.3 percent of respondents said it is either "essential" or "increasingly important" in driving brand advocacy and business performance. In addition, 83.6 percent said positive customer experiences and word of mouth have helped their brands and businesses grow. There were 45.8% of respondents who admitted that high-profile negative customer experiences had at some time compromised their brands.

Only 31.7 percent rate their company's commitment to customer listening highly, but another 34.7 percent say it is "getting better." Although 33 percent of respondents said their companies have made no changes to the way they track and analyze customer experience in recent years, it can be seen as a positive development that 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 and approximately 21 percent say they have embraced intelligent Internet analytics and are capturing real time information at the "point of pain."

Other key findings of the study 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.

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

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