Monday, May 31, 2010

Survey Finds Consumers Recharged

Consumers are becoming confident about the economic recovery and their finances are on the mend, according to a new survey of consumer retail spending and trends from Deloitte.

More than half (55 percent) of consumers think the economy has started to recover from the recession, and nearly two-thirds (64 percent) indicate their household financial situation is the same or better compared with a year ago. In addition, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of survey respondents said they are planning to spend the same or more at retailers this year than they did in 2009.

Despite this show of confidence, consumers are mindful of events that could impact their financial situation. More than half of consumers (54 percent) say rising energy prices could cause them to hold back their spending in coming months; more than four out of 10 say higher taxes (45 percent) and lack of improvement in the job market (41 percent) could do the same. Roughly one out of four (27 percent) believe that the economy is recovering but may fall back into recession.

Consumers have taken notice of the operational changes that retailers made in response to the recessionary downshift in demand. Fifty percent of consumers surveyed believe that retailers are currently offering more sales or deals in response to the recession. However, more than half (53 percent) also think there is less sales help in the stores today, and 43 percent say there is less inventory in the stores.

Some of the frugal shopping habits that consumers picked up during the recession are lasting into the recovery. Almost half (45 percent) of consumers surveyed said they shopped at certain stores to save money during the recession, and approximately seven out of 10 (71 percent) consumers plan to continue to do so even as their financial situation improves.

Consumers are demonstrating new, post-recessionary shopping patterns linked to social, mobile and online tools.

While one-third (33 percent) are purchasing more online compared with a year ago, the Web has become an integral part of the in-store shopping experience as well, with three-quarters (75 percent) of consumers indicating that they look online for store, price or product information before or during their in-store shopping.

More than half (56 percent) of respondents indicate they use social networking sites, and among them, more than four out of 10 (43 percent) interact with retailers through these channels. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of them do so to find out about promotions, almost half (48 percent) browse products and more than one-third (35 percent) review the recommendations found on those sites.

Consumers are also heeding the favorable – and the unfavorable – opinions delivered via online product reviews. Half of consumers say that an online product review has influenced their decision to buy a product (51 percent) – or to not buy a product (50 percent).

Mobile shopping platforms are also getting consumers’ attention. More than one in five (21 percent) consumers have used a Web-enabled mobile phone in the shopping process. More than one-third of these consumers have shopped on a website (36 percent) or compared product prices (35 percent). Nearly three out of 10 (29 percent) have researched product information online and one-quarter (25 percent) have purchased a product on a website while using their mobile phone.

More information on CRM can be found at

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

“Show Me the Value!” Say British Consumers

The late ‘90s mantra of “Show me the money” has morphed into “Show me the value,” reflecting a new focus by consumers hungry for value in all its forms, according to Convergys’ recently completed 2010 Consumer Scorecard Research study. UK consumers want the companies with which they do business to value them, value their time, value their money, and value their preferences, say the study findings, released by Convergys Corporation.

Convergys’ second annual consumer research study demonstrated that the recession has increased UK consumer demand for excellence in customer service. 79% of the consumers surveyed reported that the service they receive is the same or worse than it was a year ago and two in three people (5% increase on last year) are more than prepared to complain about it, in the hope getting resolution.

Meanwhile, the study results also highlighted that one in four customer service representatives polled felt that they were less equipped with the necessary tools to offer a better service than last year, with only 38% believing an improved customer service was offered.

Value my time: Consumers continue to expect superior customer service experiences, with 65% of survey respondents choosing "addresses my needs on first contact” as the attribute most often selected in their top five customer service attributes, up from 61% in the 2008 pre-recession research. Since they are key to first-contact resolution, “knowledgeable employees” also ranked high, chosen by 62% of consumers as the third most important customer service attribute.

Value my money: Recession-weary consumers are not just looking for the lowest cost, but the best value in their customer transactions. 64% of survey respondents chose “good value for the money” as the second most important customer service attribute, up significantly from 2008. 30% of respondents rated reliable service as more important than price in their definition of what constitutes “good value for money.” Only 5% of customers defined good value as “paying the lowest price.”

Value me: “Treats me like a valued customer” was the fourth most important attribute, cited by 60% of survey respondents, down slightly from 62% in 2008.

Value my preferences: Survey respondents’ contact channel preferences point to an increasing need for multiple customer care solutions that combine agent-assisted service, with automation and self-service options. While consumers still prefer to speak with a customer service agent, customer service via self-service, live web chat, automated phone systems, and e-mail with response is also gaining traction, particularly with the Millennial age group (consumers between the ages of 18-34).

Despite consumers’ clear preferences for value and efficient issue resolution, bad customer experiences continue to frustrate consumers, 51% of whom reported having a bad experience with a company, a slight decrease from 2008. In response, today’s value-minded consumer is more likely to speak with his or her wallet: 49% of the survey respondents who had a bad experience reported that they stopped doing business with that company, up from 44% in 2008.
Those who stay are more likely to seek and expect resolution from a company when they do not receive the service and value they expect. Survey respondents reported that they informed companies of their bad experiences 66% of the time, up from 63% in 2008. Companies that were not equipped to resolve or respond to customer complaints paid the price in customer defections. 59% of survey respondents who reported a bad experience and did not receive a response from the company stopped doing business with the offending party, as did 53% of respondents who received a response without resolution.

85% of survey respondents who had a bad experience with a company also told their friends and colleagues about it, spreading the word through face-to-face chats, e-mails, text messages and social media, which has immense power to amplify the voice of the frustrated consumer widely among a company’s customers and potential customers. Interestingly, this trend did not belong just to the social media savvy Millennial, but stretched across all of the age groups surveyed.

More information on CRM can be found at

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gartner Highlights Three-Step Process for Technology Marketers to Create Comprehensive Customer Reference Program

Providers that apply customer references across a broad range of stakeholders close business faster, build stronger brands and sustain higher employee morale, according to Gartner, Inc.

Gartner has developed a three-step process to help technology marketers structure a comprehensive customer reference program to achieve higher returns. The process is based on conversations with providers that manage customer references as a structured marketing program rather than an ad hoc activity.

Step 1: Set your goals. Whether the goal is 100 percent referenceability or some other metric, the objective needs to be meaningful and clear.

Step 2: Develop a recruiting strategy to encourage customers to act as references. Providers need to stop asking customers to be references and start selling them on the value of being a customer reference. While reference recruiting is usually seen as a post-sales activity, it’s something that can actually begin before the sale. For example, some providers offer price considerations, a free service or some other premium if a prospect will agree to consider becoming a reference six months after they sign.

Step 3: Manage the day-to-day tactics of the customer reference program. Customer references should be managed with the same discipline as any marketing program by putting someone in charge. This doesn't have to be a full-time role, nor does it have to happen from Day 1, but in order to maximize return on investment in the program, this commitment must be made.

Customer success stories provide real evidence that a provider is delivering on its brand promise, something that can be shared with business leaders across the organization. But managing a comprehensive program of customer references -- and their subsequent application across a broad range of stakeholders -- is a lot to manage. Gartner recommends that marketers look into automation to make the process easier and even more effective.

More information on CRM can be found at

Monday, May 10, 2010

Digital Numbers Every Marketer Should Know

-- Over 1 billion people participate in social networking worldwide, with a growth rate of about 25 percent per year, according to research firm comScore. The growth rate in Europe is 35 percent; in the Middle East, it’s 66 percent.

-- At least 60 percent of wealthy consumers in the United States belong to social networking sites. According to a recent Wealth Survey from the Luxury Institute, American consumers with an average income of $287,000 and an average net worth of 2.1 million typically have memberships in 2.8 social networks and an average of 110 connections.

- Today, over 100 million Americans send and receive text messages on any given day—including 65 percent of all mobile subscribers under the age of thirty. Over 83 percent of teens use text messaging, based on a 2009 Nielsen study.

-- Nearly 8 million people regularly use Twitter and similar applications.

-- Nearly 62 percent of all Internet users in the United States—some 184 million people—consume the kind of free or ad-supported online video to be found at, YouTube, Hulu, or subscription-based served like Time-Warner Cable’s TV Everywhere service. According to Pew, nearly 57 percent of these viewers routinely send links to videos they’ve watched to others, creating a network multiplier effect that frequently produces viral hits.

-- Nearly 15 percent of online consumers actually post their own “user-generated” videos on sites like YouTube, according to Pew, where they can be instantly shared with the 79 million people who have so far viewed the some 3 billion videos there.

-- By 2012, based on projections by Forrester Research, marketers are expected to spend $61 billion a year on digital platforms to create emotional connections with customers—and to generate breathtaking competitive advantage through the power of now.

Adapted from THE ON-DEMAND BRAND: 10 Rules for Digital Marketing Success in an Anytime, Everywhere World by Rick Mathieson (AMACOM 2010).

Monday, May 3, 2010

Survey Indicates More Than 95 Percent of Organizations Expect to Maintain or Grow Their Use of SaaS Through 2010

More than 95 percent of organizations expect to maintain or grow their use of software as a service (SaaS), according to a survey by Gartner, Inc. Survey respondents cited significant integration requirements and a change in sourcing strategy as the top two reasons for adoption followed by high total cost of ownership (TCO).

However, Gartner found that most companies still do not have policies governing the evaluation and use of SaaS with only 39 percent of respondents indicating that such a policy or process exists, up just 1 percent from 38 percent in 2008.

The survey was conducted in December 2009 and January 2010 and involved 270 IT and business management professionals from a variety of industries in North America, Europe and Asia/Pacific who were personally involved in the implementation support, implementation, planning and/or budget decisions related to the purchase of enterprise application software.

The scope of functionality of SaaS applications has broadened significantly in recent years. In terms of popularity for SaaS usage, the survey showed that e-mail, financial management (accounting), sales force automation and customer service, and expense management are the most popular in terms of current use, with more than 30 percent of the survey base using these types of applications.

In terms of expected investment levels in SaaS solutions over the next two years, survey respondents gave generally encouraging responses for software and service providers, with on average 53 percent of organizations expecting to increase investment levels slightly and 19 percent significantly. However, not all buyers intend to increase usage, with almost one-quarter of all respondents expecting investment levels to remain about the same, and 4 percent looking at a slight decrease in investment levels.

In comparing current with new investments in future on-premises and SaaS investments within their organizations, 72 percent of respondents believe SaaS investments will increase, while 45 percent hold the same notion about on-premises budgets. Regionally, North America and Asia/Pacific respondents indicated a stronger interest in procuring solutions via a SaaS model, and, compared with those in Europe, showed greater confidence that their organizations will increase investments in products offered as SaaS or through a subscription model through year-end 2010.

However, the survey found that some organizations have found SaaS solutions to be less than optimal for some buyers, and 16 percent of respondents said that they are transitioning from SaaS to on-premises solutions. Although there was no single outstanding reason that caused respondents to shift to on-premises, in general, the majority of organizations in this position were facing significant integration requirements and became unsatisfied with a TCO that became too high.

Despite the continuous adoption of SaaS across regions, more than one-third of the respondents have noted concerns on their recent SaaS deployments. Most respondents with these issues are located outside North America, specifically in Asia/Pacific where high-speed high-availability networks, are not as readily available as in North America. Issues with integration and customization were some of the primary issues cited by respondents overall.

More information on SaaS can be found at