PALO ALTO, Calif. (Jan. 26, 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.
Sponsored by Satmetrix, the Net Promoter Company, the study, entitled "Giving Customer Voice More Volume," revealed that a surprising 58 percent of the 480 executives surveyed said their companies do not compensate any employees or executives based on customer loyalty, satisfaction improvements or analytics. Some 38 percent said their companies have no programs in place to track or propagate positive word of mouth among customers. In addition, only 29 percent said their companies rate highly in their ability handle and resolve customer problems or complaints.
The CMO Council 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 experience is one of the most critical determinants of brand strength and business growth. 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," said CMO Council executive director Donovan Neale-May. "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."
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 38 percent of companies gather customer insight from customer engagement situations.
- Just 32 percent look for ways to turn problems into new sales opportunities, and only 15 percent introduce new products or services to further monetize the relationship.
- Merely 17 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 percent of respondents said it is either "essential" or "increasingly important" in driving brand advocacy and business performance. In addition, 84 percent said positive customer experiences and word of mouth have helped their brands and businesses grow. There were 44 percent of respondents who admitted that high-profile negative customer experiences had at some time compromised their brands.
Only 31 percent rate their company's commitment to customer listening highly, but another 35 percent say it is "getting better." Although 34 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 45 percent of respondents say their companies have taken steps to better integrate and analyze customer data. Another 39 percent said they have increased personalization and intimacy in their customer communications, 20 percent say they have embraced intelligent Internet analytics and 18 percent are capturing real-time information at the "point of pain."
"Companies must become more sophisticated and committed to both leveraging customer experience as a key business metric and instituting company-wide processes that drive improvement," said Laura Brooks, Ph.D. and vice president of research for Satmetrix. "The Net Promoter Score has been proven to be the most reliable customer metric for business growth, but measurement is not an end in itself. Companies need to commit themselves to understanding the key determinants of their score and continuously strive to improve their customer experience competitiveness." Brooks is co-author, with Satmetrix CEO Richard Owen, of a new book, entitled "Answering the Ultimate Question," that offers a new operating model for NetPromoter success.
Other key findings of the study include:
- Nearly two-thirds of companies do not have a formal Voice of Customer program in place.
- Only 13 percent of companies have deployed real-time systems to collect, analyze and distribute customer feedback.
- While 74 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 14.5 percent track word of mouth on the Internet
- Only 12 percent are using a word-of-mouth marketing platform to drive online customer advocacy.
For more information about the Giving Customer Voice More Volume study can be found on the CMO Council web site at www.cmocouncil.org.