The noughties have undeniably been the age of the customer – it is rare for any brand, from blue-chip services firms to high street retailers, not to play lip service to the importance of engagement, responsivity and connection.
However, new research from GfK has posited that this rhetoric may not be being backed up by strong customer relationships.
Satisfaction levels across financial services, telecoms and retail are flatlining and many businesses in the UK are failing to deliver a differentiated customer experience, reports Marketing Week.
Over the past five years, happiness with bank accounts has remained relatively static, dropping from 67 per cent to 66 per cent between 2008 and 2013. In the same period, satisfaction with insurance providers fell by a steep nine per cent.
John Banerji, director of customer experience research at GfK, told Marketing Week this is likely to come as a shock to firms that have been investing a great deal of money and time into this area of their marketing function.
“The reason it may not be cutting through is that feedback sometimes comes from a vocal minority who may not be wholly representative. Some businesses also have a tendency to focus on short-term changes to maintain profitability, so the more complex, longer-term issues are deferred,” he theorised.
Electricity and gas suppliers also recorded minor falls in their customer satisfaction levels, GfK found.
Stuart Crawford-Browne, divisional director of brand and customer service at GfK, warned that differentiation can be an issue – especially in sectors where the actual product being offered doesn’t vary a great deal from provider to provider.
“Unless the marketing and communications teams tap into how they can add value, make sure they are relevant to consumers and refresh their proposition effectively it is likely consumers will not feel engaged,” predicted Mr Crawford-Browne.
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