February 9, 2009, 12:00 AM

Companies fail to measure and act on customer feedback, study finds

Senior marketers admit they are failing to take action to integrate the voice and experiences of the customer into key business processes, a Chief Marketing Officer Council study finds.

Despite overwhelming agreement on the importance of the customer experience and subsequent word of mouth, senior marketers admit their companies are failing to take decisive, companywide action to integrate feedback from customers and their experiences into key business and marketing processes, a new study by the Chief Marketing Officer Council says.

The study, “Giving Customer Voice More Volume,” reveals that 58% of the 480 executives in various industries surveyed say their companies do not compensate any employees or executives based on customer loyalty or satisfaction improvements. 38% say their companies have no programs in place to track or propagate positive word of mouth among customers. And only 29% rate highly their ability to handle and resolve customer problems or complaints. The study was conducted by the council with Satmetrix, a customer experience and word of mouth consulting and technology company.

“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,” says council executive director Donovan Neale-May. “CMOs must assume ownership for the customer experience and establish enterprisewide 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.”

Nearly two-thirds of companies do not have a formal program in place to monitor and measure the voice of the customer, the study finds. Only 13% have deployed real-time systems to collect, analyze and distribute customer feedback. While 74% receive customer feedback via e-mail, only 23% track and measure the volume and nature of these messages. And while the voice of customers is spreading online through social media, only 14.5% of companies track word of mouth on the Internet

“Companies must become more sophisticated and committed to both leveraging customer experience as a key business metric and instituting companywide processes that drive improvement,” says Laura Brooks, vice president of research at Satmetrix. “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.”

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