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Customers are shouting, but brands aren’t listening

Research we recently conducted with the Customer Contact Association (CCA) reveals that most British consumers (89 percent) are likely to tell the organisations they do business with if they receive poor service, yet almost half (44 percent) do not believe organisations take notice of, or care about, the feedback shared.

Our study comprised parallel surveys of consumers and customer service heads, and found that organisations are missing a trick by failing to act on what their customers tell them. This vital intelligence could influence organisational decision making and the marketing department has a key role, acting as the conduit in making sure organisations are listening to customers and continually working towards improving customer relationships.

Feedback doesn’t only have to come from market research and focus groups. The savvy marketer should also gather insights from what customers say every day – what they tweet, what they tell call centre agents, what they blog about, what they enter on feedback forms and so on. Much of this data already exists within the IT systems, call records and contact centre agent notes - just waiting to be mined. There are now solutions that organisations can use to mine interactions across social media channels. It is from all these channels where the brief asides and comments given every day can be pieced together to provide clear insight to what people think about products and service, promotions or brands. Feeding this customer insight into marketing strategies and campaign plans means brands can better cater to the desires, needs and perceptions of customers – all the time helping re-build relationships that may, for any number of reasons, have come under strain.

This research underlined what many already suspect: that social media is going to become a key feedback channel in the future. Most people think social media can hold companies to account like never before, however one third of organisations polled admitted to overlooking social media completely with most respondents reporting that they look at less than two per cent of customer interactions across these channels. According to 59 percent of people, companies need to pay much more attention to what people say on social media – then act on what they hear. This is especially important when looking at the next generation of customers: two thirds of 16-24 year-olds report that they use social media to talk about bad experiences, while, encouragingly, 61 percent also discuss positive experiences here.

The winning brands will be those that can prove to their customers they are listening to their feedback, and are seen to act upon it. Being tuned in to what they say, be it over the phone, through the mail, and in social media is a vital first step.