A recently released study by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business confirms what many in the customer service industry have been saying for a long time: good service sells. The biannual CMO survey is designed to forecast which direction marketing is moving. Many other considerations are taken into account including the quality of marketing initiatives and the overall value of marketing. The survey measured the results of some 4963 American marketers at leading companies. The respondents were overwhelmingly vice president level or higher – 95% of them.
Conclusions Drawn from the CMO Survey
The general consensus is that there is a greater degree of optimism about the overall performance of the American economy, especially when compared to the last quarter. Concerns remain regarding increased volumes of customer purchases as well as the increased customer price per unit. Retention of customers is another key consideration as are the entry of new customers and the acquisition of new customers. The CMO survey released two reports – one in August 2013 and one in February 2014. In both instances, the most important consideration for customers was that of superior product quality. Contrary to the norm, price and affordability took a back seat to the overall level of service excellence and product quality that customers are privy to.
Facts and Figures
In August 2013 the CMO survey revealed that low price was the most important consideration for 21% of respondents. That figure dropped to 16.8% by February 2014. This certainly corroborates the opinion and the reality that the USA economy is on the rebound and that price considerations are listening to customers in 2014. It is interesting to note that customer service remains in a tight range – between August 2013 and February 2014, with figures of 20.7% and 17.9% respectively. The biggest jump between the CMO surveys of August and February come from the quality sector. In August 2013, 22.7% of respondents valued quality above other considerations while that figure increased to 31% in February 2014. The 8.3 percentage point increase is a sure sign that an improving USA economy and greater disposable incomes are allowing customers greater flexibility in respect of what products they wish to purchase. Clearly the most important considerations in the pie chart are quality, low price and service, while brand and innovation feature as minority sectors.
Based on the survey, return on investment for marketing is measured by: manager assessments 27%, customer surveys 22%, econometric modelling 18%, experimentation 16%, and lead generation 2%. Some 15% of companies admitted that they do not measure marketing return on investment. Spending across growth strategies will continue in 3 key sectors: diversification strategy 15%, service development strategy 11.5%, and market development strategy 11.1%. A reduction to the tune of 11% is expected in market penetration strategy based on the CMO surveys.
Effective Customer Service Facilitates Increased Purchases
Effective customer service has come to mean different things over the years. While traditional FAQs, telephone and fax services sufficed several years ago, today they have either been replaced or bolstered with real-time customer support options. These include self-aware knowledge bases that are capable of updating with using queries and responses in real time. Full integration across multiple channels of an organization is possible. The technology is presently available for customers to access personalized help in any point in their eCommerce shopping experience. Information can be gleaned on product availability, shipping times, payment options, complementary products, out of stock products and location-specific questions. The possibilities abound with customer support software in the eCommerce realm.
The results of the CMO survey speak volumes about changing trends and realities in the marketplace in the US. However it is important not to draw false connections when extrapolating data. For example, the interpretation of the statistics is subject to human intervention and referencing. It’s vital to gain a solid understanding of precisely what is important to the customer and what the customer believes. In that regard, it is clear that enhanced customer support service software that provides for a self-service solution is preferred by customers. Of equal importance is the fact that effective customer service – self-service – reduces overall costs to the company which can then be passed on to the customer in the form of lower prices.
Efficient Self-Service Benefits Customers & Companies Alike
Moreover, this is positive for the company itself as it can train fewer customer support agents, and reduce costs accordingly. This is reflected in companies using this type of software where customers are able to resolve queries at their leisure, without having to wait interminable periods of time on the phone or for e-mail responses. The return on investment (ROI) has increased dramatically and shopping cart abandonment rates are down. The human resources of customer service departments can also focus their attention on dealing with queries that require their undivided attention, as opposed to resolving routine queries. It’s certainly a win-win situation for all.