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Marketers failing to measure customer feedback, communities

Most marketers are not monitoring online message boards and communities and are failing to measure the customer experience, a CMO Council survey finds.

Despite the explosive growth of message boards, social networks and word of mouth, marketers are doing a poor job of monitoring their brands and the customer experience online, according to a report released today by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based organization surveyed more than 400 senior marketers on the way they measure and address the customer experience. Few are capitalizing on the opportunity to leverage customer feedback, the report found. For example, only 16% are monitoring online message boards and networking sites.

"Obviously there is a lack of Internet listening," said Donovan Neale-May, CMO Council executive director. "That is the big value of the Internet and these communities, discussion groups and blogs. With the right technology you can easily listen in on those conversations and extract meaningful intelligence from text analysis. You can freely and continuously monitor the sentiment of those conversations, and it doesn't cost a lot of money."

The missed opportunities to connect with the customer extend beyond message boards and networking sites, however. There is also plenty of choice when it comes to technology to help marketers with the task.

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"There are obviously hosted platforms like island data and buzz metrics firms," Neale-May said. "They monitor media coverage, and they should be measuring online sentiment. That stuff's there. It's not prohibitively expensive. It's what you do with the analytics and how you take the data and operationalize the feedback. It's not just identifying areas of friction and pain, but the ability to have someone remedy the problem and do it rapidly and quickly so you don't have customer disconnect and customer defection."

Among other findings of the survey:

  • Only 37% of companies gather customer insight from customer engagement situations.
  • A majority, 60%, don't compensate employees or executives for helping build customer loyalty or satisfaction.
  • Only 23% track or measure customer feedback emails.

"There are many opportunities for interacting with customers, but companies see this more as a way to deal with a problem -- 'How quickly can we process the complaint or handle the problem?' rather than say, 'How do we utilize those touch points and gain insight?' " Neale-May said.

Marketers are also missing opportunities to gain a competitive edge from customer feedback, he added. Marketers may not be measuring (or compensating employees on) the customer experience, but they clearly recognize its value. According to the survey, 83% of respondents said it is either "essential" or "increasingly important" in driving brand advocacy and business performance.

"The one thing every company depends on is customer experience, yet they don't compensate employees on their performance as it relates to this," Neale-May said. "You need the ability -- as you measure marketing effectiveness -- to measure customer retention effectiveness, customer recovery and reactivation. Less than 30% of marketers even have formal strategies for reactivating or recovering lost accounts."

A slight majority of respondents said they didn't have a corporate program for measuring word of mouth. This is particularly troubling for B2B organizations like service providers, where word of mouth is the primary way of validating a company's offerings, according to Neale-May.

The CMO Council advocates that organizations track their marketing effectiveness by tracking metrics such as customer advocacy, and marketing should be measured on customer affinity, customer retention and customer lifetime value.

"Accountability is a cultural thing," Neale-May said. "Many companies say they have a CEO focused on that, but it's clearly not getting driven down to the organization."

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