Why companies that listen get better results
Companies that launch 'customer listening' and digital engagement initiatives tend to be rewarded with improved customer satisfaction scores, customer loyalty and brand metrics, according to a Dell-commissioned research study conducted by Forrester Consulting.
The study, entitled 'Listening and Engaging in the Digital Marketing Age', examined the state of social media in US firms, and surveyed 200 medium and large US-based marketers across three industries (high tech, media/entertainment, and utility & banking services).
The study found that, while more than three-quarters of the companies surveyed monitor online conversations and respond to customer feedback through social media, only 20% of respondents currently place social media at the core of their marketing plans. Technology companies lead in integrating social media programmes throughout their organisations at nearly double the rate of media and one and a half times the rate of utility and banking service organisations. Nearly all the companies surveyed have specific plans to increase their social media investments, with 73% planning to add employees focused on listening and engagement initiatives in the coming year.
"Listening and responding to customers is so basic and fundamental. The emergence of social media elevates how companies can act on the feedback they get from customers," said Karen Quintos, senior vice president and CMO for Dell. "As companies embark on social media, the key is to embed it throughout every facet of the organisation-from sales to marketing to engineering to customer service to HR to finance."
While making strong progress, businesses are still lagging behind their customers, 80% of whom use social media. For example:
- 50% of companies surveyed say their social media efforts are serious but not a core function;
- 16% reward customers whose ideas they use;
- Only 6% claim that their companies' listening and engagement initiatives are very integrated.
But companies' investment in listening is on the rise, and the benefits are tangible:
- 64% of respondents are incorporating customer feedback into products or services;
- 76% distribute customer feedback internally;
- 31% are enhancing sales by offering incentive programmes for customers who engage online, including deals and discounts.