According to findings by the CMO Council, as reported in a recent MediaPost article, CMOs "don't know how to use customer input to improve operations, products and processes." The study, "Giving Customer Voice More Volume" was based on a survey with about 500 senior marketer respondents from major corporations.

Here's how the respondents' numbers stacked up in the study:
33% indicated their companies "claim to be good at handling customer complaints".
23% indicated their companies "track or measure customer emails".
17% use email feedback "to identify potential customer advocates".
16% "monitor online message boards and social networking sites".
59% indicated their companies "do not compensate any employees or executives based on customer loyalty, satisfaction improvements or analytics".
Only 37% cited said they gathered customer insights from customer engagement opportunities; only 15% use this information to "identify and cultivate" potentially powerful brand ambassadors.
Only 33% said they used customer problems as a means to cultivate new sales opportunities with their customers.
Only 16% used customer interactions as a means of introducing new products or services.
In the article, the conclusion reached, that was most troubling to the executive director of the CMO Council, Donovan Neale-May, because the "customer custodian" function "is one of the most critical–in fact, the most critical role a CMO can play in an organization: to own every facet of listening, learning, interacting, engaging and optimizing the relationship with the customer, and understanding where the attrition, pain and aggravation is, and doing this in real time. It is mind-boggling to me that the level of attention to this is not what it should be, and fragmented in terms of who owns it."
In other words, how fragmented is the access to customer data within companies? How fragmented is the "ownership" of responsibility for that data? It's an age-old problem and based on the findings of the CMO Council, it's still a problem. But wouldn't you think, given the state of competition and the economy today, companies would move quickly to fix this problem?
It seems to me, if there's one thing companies can and should do right now to stabilize their sales losses, it ought to involve customer retention initiatives first rather than customer acquisition as the primary goal.
Questions for Daily Fix readers:
Shouldn't marketing and sales managers be able to access all customer data? Shouldn't it be integrated now, more than ever?
Shouldn't listening and engaging customers be job #1 for everyone in every company right now?
Shouldn't the marketing department take ownership of monitoring this information and use it to retain customers?
Lastly, can you think of examples of company interactions you've had recently where your problems, observations and requests were truly listened to and honored? Conversely, can you think of examples where they weren't? In either scenario, how did it make you feel?
I'd love to hear from you.

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Ted Mininni is president and creative director of Design Force, a leading brand-design consultancy.

LinkedIn: Ted Mininni