Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New Study: "Exploring the Link Between Customer Care and Brand Reputation in the Age of Social Media "

Just came across press releases on this study, including this one:

A few salient quotes from a Brandweek article on the study:

"Forget focus groups. Consumers are giving it straight to brands, and each other, via online social media in big numbers, according to a recent study by the Society for New Communications Research, Palo Alto, Calif."

The study found that 74% of respondents choose companies or brands based on customer service experiences shared by other Web users on the Internet. Eighty-one percent of those polled said they believe blogs, online rating systems and discussion forums give consumers “a greater voice” in customer service. However, only 33% of respondents felt that companies take customers’ opinions seriously."

...Of those industries judged to be doing the best job in using social media to respond to customer service issues, technology, retail and travel companies took top honors. Dell and Amazon were noted most often as those companies doing the best job handling customer care problems via social media.

Utilities, healthcare and insurance firms fared the worst. "

Well - it's good to see that others are seeing what we're seeing at Clarabridge. In no particular order - my thoughts:

1) desirable, savvy, computer-literate, affluent customers value the customer experience, and don't want to waste time with companies that waste their time with sub-par experiences

2) those customers are not shy about making their opinions known on, and offline.

3) When they get upset - the words, the emotions, and the passions are captured in all kinds of places. In the notes in a customer support interaction. In the passionate responses of a customer survey (increasingly if not exclusively on-line surveys nowadays). And of course (as this study notes) in the forums, and groups online where like minded consumers congregate.

If you're one of those companies in travel, hospitality retail, and technology, you're probably interested to learn more. Not surprisingly, when you look at the customer rosters for firms like Clarabridge - they are full of those kinds of companies who want to learn more about customer feedback, and use the feedback to improve their customers experiences. Customers like Gaylord Hotels, Marriott, Gap Stores, United Airlines, Intuit, H&R Block, etc. They're using text mining platforms like Clarabridge's CMP to crawl web content, or text mine survey and call center verbatim content, and they're tapping into customer feedback, learning how they fare, fixing problems, benchmarking against their competitors. In short - they're GETTING IT.

As a consumer of health care, utility, and insurance firms, I'm not surprised that they're not. I'm also not surprised because I mostly don't see many of those companies using customer experience analytics solutions very much.

It's not enough to recognize that customers are posting their rants, passions, and feedback on the Internet and in surveys and in their conversations with companies. Companies need to:

- Connect to, and Collect the content from wherever it is.
- Mine and Refine the content, to translate text (in all its clumsy, wordy verbosity) into ideas, concepts, experiences, and sentiments that can be quantified,
- Analyze and Discover themes, issues, problems, opportunities, and passions of customers about the products and services they consume.

It's all about Customer Experience Intelligence. It's all about what Clarabridge does. It's not a fad. It's a trend.


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