Giving Customer Voice More Volume

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Customer influence and expectations in the Web 2.0 world have never been greater. Positive or negative word-of-mouth can spread rapidly and virally across the Internet and throughout its many channels, communities, blogs, discussion groups, bulletin boards and trusted business and social networks. Many brands, companies and campaigns have been compromised from inattention to real-world customer experiences, behaviors, issues, concerns, frustrations and failings. Lack of listening and prompt responsiveness to customer feedback, inquiries, problems, complaints, suggestions, comments, and communications can make a significant difference to brand perceptions, customer affinity and NetPromoter scores.

Creating a corporate culture of listening, learning and limiting hassles and headaches can improve product uptake, reduce market friction, increase customer responsiveness, and identify new monetization opportunities. Always-on, intelligent agenting and real-time feedback systems that integrate, mine, process and analyze vast volumes of customer data, interactions and inquiries can now be rapidly and efficiently deployed through on-demand platforms and hosted services. These systems can not only automate the response to customer incidents and inquiries but also monitor online discussions and provide predictive analytics based on the tonality, sentiment and content of communications, conversations and inbound contact and correspondence. Closed-loop systems which continuously monitor customer feedback (behaviors, actions, thoughts, feelings, and opinions) can provide actionable intelligence that influences the design, development, delivery and differentiation of products, services and brand experiences.

The CMO Council’s Giving Customer Voice More Volume initiative will drive broader adoption and use of customer listening, feedback, engagement and advocacy systems across all markets and industry sectors, as well as educate senior marketers on the need to embrace their contact center, help desk, telemarketing, consulting and agency partners in order to integrate Voice of Customer (VOC) capabilities into mainstream operations and organizational fabrics. The program will advocate for marketing’s ownership of the customer experience and the role of marketing executives in ensuring that all operational areas and organizational processes (products, programs, channels, functions, policies, touch points and services) are harmonized and optimized to deliver on brand promises and drive customer advocacy, satisfaction and loyalty.


Facts & Stats

47% of executives say that customer experience will play a very important role over the next 3 years. According to the same study, 73% of respondents cite a lack of clear experience strategy as a key challenge. (Forrester Research)

A typical business only hears from 4% of its dissatisfied customers; the other 96 percent leave quietly. Of that 96 percent, 68 percent never reveal their dissatisfaction because they perceive an attitude of indifference in the owner, manager or employee. (University of Pennsylvania)

When it comes to voicing opinions online, young people (age 22 and under) are much noisier online than their elders. They account for about half of all the content and comments posted online.(Rubicon Consulting)

Less than 50% of senior marketing executives currently believe use of social media is a vital component of corporate communications that should be monitored at the executive level and allocated significant resources, but 95% believe social media will grow in significance over the next five years. (TNS media intelligence/Cymfony)

Social media users want companies to interact with them, not just blast their marketing messages. 92% of respondents said companies should have some presence on social media sites—51% said companies should interact with consumers as needed or by request, 34% said companies should be actively involved, and 8% said those companies should have a presence but not interact with consumers. (Cone Inc.)

How marketing executives view social media (TNS media intelligence/Cymfony/):

  • A strategic tool to gain consumer insights (37%)
  • A way to build brand awareness (21%)
  • A means to increase customer loyalty (18%)

Actions taken by blog readers based on the information they found about a product (JupiterResearch. ):

  • Reading product reviews online (17%)
  • Seeking out more information on a product or service (16%)
  • Visiting a manufacturer or retailer Website (16%)

Outside of technology-related purchases, for which 31% of readers say blogs are useful, other key categories include media and entertainment (15%); games/toys and/or sporting goods (14%); travel (12%); automotive (11%); and health (10%). (University of Massachusetts, Social Media in the Inc. 500)

The Web is the #2 resource for customer support information, after user manuals. It ranks ahead of calling the manufacturer or asking a dealer. (Rubicon Consulting)

Just over one quarter of the Inc. 500 reported social media was very important to their business/marketing strategy in 2007. That number has increased to 44% just one year later. (JupiterResearch)


Studies & White Papers

The Influencer Handbook
The Who, What, When, Where, How and Why of Influencer Marketng: A guide produced and published by the Word of Mouth Marketing Association.

Word of Mouth 101
An introduction to Word of Mouth Marketing best practices and fundatmentals, provided by the Word of Mouth Marketing Association.

The Word of Mouth Marketing Ethics Code of Conduct
Published by the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, the ethics code of conduct provides guidelines and best practices for marketers to follow in WOM programs and initiatives.

Executives Must Realize and Learn the Power of Social Media
A multi-country study by TNS media intelligence/Cymfony reveals social media's progress toward becoming a mainstream marketing communications tool.

The Spillover Effect
The paper is based on one of the largest research studies conducted on engagement, which found that one out of every 10 customers was hurt by disengaged employees.

Social Media in the Inc. 500: The First Longitudinal Study
The new study compares corporate adoption of social media between 2007 and 2008 by the Inc. 500, a list of the fastest-growing private U.S. companies compiled annually by Inc. Magazine.

2007 Customer Experience Impact Report
A Harris Interactive study of 2,049 US adults which examines how consumers engage with companies, both online and via phone, what frustrates and pleases them and how customer experiences impact their thoughts and actions.

What All That Chatter Is Really Saying? Turning Customer Feedback Into More Meaningful Insight
An article from Advertising Age detailing how Starwood used text analytics to gain insight from the blogosphere and social networks.

Mining the Minds of Millions Online
An article published in 1to1 Magazine which discusses using insight from social media. References examples from Starwood and Nabisco.



Voice of the Customer
Dale Graff of Vanguard Communications maintains an interactive forum for contact center customers, suppliers and consultants to collaborate on contemporary issues and opportunities

Love Them Up and Keep Them Forever
A blog by Marilyn Suttle and Lori Vest about customer service through connection

Becky Carroll’ blog about customers, their experiences, and how businesses can make sure their customer experiences rock.

Deborah Eastman
Marketing and Business Development expert, Deborah Eastman works with customers to deliver solutions that leverage new technology to drive improved business performance. As Satmetrix CMO, Eastman brings her vast experience to comment on the power of word of mouth, loyalty programs, and building customer communities.
A blog from Pete Blackshaw, exec VP of Nielsen Online Digital Strategic Services and author of the forthcoming book "Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000" (Doubleday), which looks at the relationship between marketing and customer service in the age of consumer control.

Social Media Explorer
Blog from Jason Falls, Director of Social Media at brand-building agency Doe Anderson, who oversees social media and Internet marketing strategies for iconic brands such as Maker's Mark and Knob Creek bourbons.

Steve Bernstein
An expert at driving repeatable and predictable value for clients, Steve Bernstein writes on specific ways to drive results through customer feedback and loyalty programs.

The Social Customer Manifesto
A blog from Christopher Carfi, who works with organizations to help them better connect with their customers at a real, non-synthetic level.

Church of the Customer Blog
Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba are writers, speakers and consultants. Both live and work in Austin, Texas. Since 2001, the pair have been researching the effects of word of mouth on customer loyalty. Forbes calls their work “the word of mouth gospel.”


Answering the Ultimate Question
By Richard Owen and Laura Brooks, PhD
With a growing number of leading companies implementing a Net Promoter discipline to improve customer loyalty and improve revenues, Answering the Ultimate Question provides key insights into the building blocks to make you successful. Creating and keeping loyal customers has become one of the key topics in today's economic market and Word of Mouth (WOM) is rapidly becoming one of the key ways customer can impact the success of your brand. Answering the Ultimate Question defines how to deploy a Net Promoter strategy. Based on numerous case studies and finding from more than 80 companies this books tells you how all types of companies are successfully building stronger customer experiences.

Engagement: Winning the Battle for Customer Hearts and Minds
Leading loyalty experts from Allegiance, J.D. Power & Associates, Peppers & Rogers Group, CustomerThink, and others have compiled a book examining the critical nature of engagement as the new business battleground. The book is aimed at marketing and business executives who are looking for innovative approaches to increasing customer and employee loyalty. Chapters provide insights and guidance on how to use engagement as a competitive advantage, the economics of engagement, how to increase customer loyalty, the link between employee and customer engagement, and more.

Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies
By Charlene Li & Josh Bernoff
Right now, your customers are writing about your products on blogs and recutting your commercials on YouTube. They're defining you on Wikipedia and ganging up on you on social Networking sites like Facebook. These are all elements of a social phenomenon—the groundswell—that has created a permanent shift in the way the world works. Most companies see it as a threat. You can see it as an opportunity.

Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online
By Andy Beal and Judy Strauss
What are they saying? How do you find out? How do you respond? And how can you use the conversation to your benefit? The explosion of social media has ushered in a new era of digital transparency that puts the power to enhance or destroy a reputation in the hands of the consumer.

The New Influencers: A Marketer’s Guide to the New Social Media
By Paul Gillin
As 'word of mouth' loses opinion-forming power to 'word of blog', companies are faced with a revolution in how their brands and corporate image will be shaped in the future. Paul Gillin provides an insightful and well-written guide on how to effectively benefit from these dramatic changes.

Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking
By Andy Sernovitz and Guy Kawasaki
Who is talking about you? Master the art of word-of-mouth marketing with this fun, practical, hands-on guide. Understand the real purpose of blogs, communities, viral email, evangelists and buzz--when to use them and how simple it is to make them work.

Revolutionize Your Customer Experience
By Colin Shaw
Colin Shaw looks at the development of the conceptual framework for the customer experience together with examples of best practice and strategies for implementation. As the customer experience has become the next competitive battleground, the book explores the subject in depth with new research and best practices and shows companies and organizations how to identify where they are and how to revolutionize their customer experience.