Companies Ignore Customer Feedback, Fail to Track WOM

February 3, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Brand Metrics | Retail & E-Commerce

Though top marketing execs believe that good customer experiences and positive word-of-mouth can increase loyalty and brand value, they admit that their companies are failing to properly integrate customer voice and experience into key business and marketing processes, according to a new study by the CMO Council, sponsored by Satmetrix.

The study, “Giving Customer Voice More Volume,” reveals that 38% of the 480 senior marketers surveyed say their companies have no programs in place to track or propagate positive word-of-mouth among customers and only 29% say their companies rate highly in their ability handle and resolve customer problems or complaints:


Moeover, 58% say their companies do not compensate any employees or executives based on customer loyalty, satisfaction improvements or analytics.

Deficiencies Detract from Brand Value

The study found that though many companies realize the importance of? collecting feedback from customers in various ways – including online, there are several critical deficiencies in the way they measure, optimize and leverage customer experience to drive loyalty, improve brand value and increase business performance and growth.


The CMO Council cites the following shortcomings:

  • 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 Interactions Viewed as ‘Problems’

Customer listening, learning and leveling are critical qualities that need to be part of an institutionalized corporate culture, the CMO Council said. Yet, survey data demonstrates that most companies treat customer interactions around service situations and incidents only as problems that need quick resolution:

  • Just more than one-third (38%) of companies gather customer insight from customer engagement situations.
  • Less than one-third (32%) look for ways to turn problems into new sales opportunities, and only 15% introduce new products or services to further monetize the relationship.
  • Less than two in 10 (17%) use customer interaction opportunities to identify and cultivate potential champions and advocates.

CMOs See Customer Experience as Important

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, the CMO Council said. In fact, an overwhelming 83% of respondents said it is either “essential” or “increasingly important” to have consumers as such advocates. In addition, 84% said positive customer experiences and word of mouth have helped their brands and businesses grow, while 44% of respondents admitted that high-profile negative customer experiences had at some point compromised their brands.

Companies Getting Better at Listening

While only 31% of marketing execs rate their company’s commitment to customer listening highly, another 35% say it is “getting better:”


In terms of taking steps to better integrate and analyze customer data in recent years, nearly half (45%) of respondents say they have done this, while 34% have not. Among ways companies have tried to improve:

  • 39% say they have increased personalization and intimacy in their customer communications.
  • 20% say they have embraced intelligent internet analytics
  • 18% are capturing real-time information at the “point of pain.”

Other? findings from the study:

  • Nearly two-thirds of companies do not have a formal Voice of Customer program in place.
  • Only 13% of companies have deployed real-time systems to collect, analyze and distribute customer feedback.
  • While 74% say they receive customer feedback via e-mail, only 23% say they track and measure the volume and nature of these messages.
  • The majority (58%) of marketing execs say that the internet and social networks have changed customer expectations for their brand, but only 14.5% track word of mouth on the internet.


  • Only 12% are using a word-of-mouth marketing platform to drive online customer advocacy.

“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.”

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