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Customer Feedback Falls on Deaf Ears
Only 35 percent of comments ever get a response.
For the rest of the April 2012 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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If there's one instance when a company should respond to customers, it's when they have posted a negative review or lodged a complaint, but that happens only 35 percent of the time, according to research from analyst firms Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies.

The rest of the time, the customer receives no response, a fact Jeff McKenna, Chadwick Martin Bailey senior consultant, calls "really disappointing."

"Companies are asking their customers to do something for them and then not doing even the basics to express their appreciation or thanks or to let them know that their feedback was heard," McKenna laments.

When a response is given, 39 percent of customers were satisfied, 35 percent were indifferent, and 26 percent were dissatisfied.

Upon setting out to do the research, which involved more than 1,400 U.S. consumers, McKenna expected to find that more than half of companies were responding.

The research found that 27 percent of consumers typically complete customer satisfaction surveys, and of those, 55 percent have completed them somewhat frequently (between three and 11 times), and 25 percent have completed them frequently (11 times or more).

Consumers who respond to customer satisfaction surveys do so because they feel that it's part of their job as a customer, McKenna noted. Fifty-seven percent said they give feedback to help improve the company.

When customers have a negative experience, they expect a response, which they often do not receive. "Most companies are still not doing anything, and it's a real opportunity missed," McKenna says.

"Customer satisfaction research is about much more than the data you get back; it's about the opportunity to engage and often recover your customers after a bad experience," he explains. "Most companies asking customers about a recent experience don't take advantage of this opportunity to turn a service failure around. Closing the door before closing the loop is a missed opportunity."

The reasons for this disconnect, according to McKenna, are twofold. "Many companies are still working with CRM systems that are outdated, and they are in a continuous process to update them, or they're using multiple systems and trying to integrate them all," he says.

On the other hand, many companies do not respond, fearing customers are trying to take advantage of them, says McKenna. Companies are "over-inflating the fear of a few bad apples…rather than working toward helping the majority of honest people," he says.

The good news is that 57 percent of customers complete satisfaction surveys to share a good experience, versus 35 percent who register a complaint.

And while McKenna thinks the experience or problem should dictate the type of response from the company, he says everyone should get a response, "even if it's just an affirmation that we heard you and we will look into [the issue] or work to improve our products."


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