Consumers get some satisfaction

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Openness to marketing messages varies greatly across countries, and the United States falls on the low end for receptivity. Verint, a company specializing in customer service and workforce optimization, polled a total of 7,000 consumers from France, Germany, Poland, Russia, the United Kingdom and the U.S. Nearly half (45%) of Russians said they read or respond to messages and special offers they receive, as did more than 30% of Germans and Poles.  Only 27% of Americans said the same, and the numbers dwindled below 20% in the U.K. and France. “I think that lessened interest has to do with the maturity of those markets,” says Verint VP Dave Capuano. “Barely a day goes by for U.S. consumers without receiving a 30% discount offer from some retailers. It dulls the consumer's senses.”

In fact, Capuano's recent interactions with clients find more talking about customer experience than customer service. “We're definitely seeing more collaboration between marketers responsible for and operations people on the frontlines,” he says. “Without question, cross-pollination between those two groups is on the rise.

With the frequency that the term cross-pollination is tossed around marketing circles these days, one would think that marketers were cultivating geraniums instead of leads.  But the study results could lead one to conclude that talk is progressing to action.

The study found that 49% of respondents were happy with the service they received from companies. Retailers, phone companies, and cable TV providers received 50%-plus satisfaction ratings.  Utilities and financial services were close behind at just under 50%. Only public services failed to satisfy, meriting a 28% favorable rating to go along with the 41% dissatisfied with their service.

Capuano point out that such high satisfaction ratings could only be achieved by providing a consistent experience across all customer touchpoints. “You don't get such a high rating from just having an attentive call center,” Capuano says. “There are so many components of a service relationship that people don't consider.  A lot of it is driven by delivery of products and services: Did they get the cable in time? Did their phone service work without interruption?  Then there's back office and billing. That's a huge influence on why people reach out for customer service.” In other words, the marketing version of cross-pollination involves uniting various corporate functions under the banner of customer centricity.

Only 22% of consumers—and a mere 7% of retail customers-- said they were dissatisfied. Capuano thinks those low numbers are indicative of an empowered customer. “Social media provides consumers with amplification of their voices in the marketplace,” he says, “and that requires businesses to put in place strategies that are more progressive than they were in the past.”

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