February 7th, 2014 by Leonard Klie

The President’s Day holiday is just slightly more than a week away, and I’m already looking forward to a much-needed day off from work. In addition to our tendency for marking significant events in our national history by slacking off for a day, there’s another reason right now for Americans to be proud: Companies here actually listen to their customers more than most of their European counterparts. At least that’s the perception by consumers.

imgresMore than a third (34 percent) of U.S. consumers believe companies actually listen to them, according to the results of a survey by Ipsos on behalf of Verint Systems. Rankings for other countries in the survey were as follows: Germany (35 percent), Poland (26 percent), Russia (25 percent) and the United Kingdom (24 percent).

The U.S. was also one of only two countries in which the percentage of consumers who felt their feedback was noticed ranked higher than the number of consumers who felt their feedback was not noticed. In the U.S., those numbers were 34 percent and 28 percent respectively. Only Germany ranked higher, with 35 percent and 18 percent respectively. This is compared to Poland (26 percent noticed versus 31 percent not noticed), Russia (25 percent versus 36 percent) and the United Kingdom (24 percent versus 29 percent).

U.S. consumers also feel comparatively more valued by service providers. Again, Germany ranked higher (57 percent valued versus 10 percent not valued), followed by the U.S. (49 percent versus 16 percent); Russia (32 percent vs. 27 percent), Poland (30 percent vs. 27 percent) and the United Kingdom (29 percent vs. 23 percent).

Perhaps not coincidentally, 42 percent of consumers believe in the power of social media for holding brands accountable.

The research also identified four types of consumers:

  • 17 percent are Brand Champions: customers who will sing a brand’s praises, remain loyal over a long period of time, and be most likely to get rewarded in return.
  • 26 percent are Silent Likers: customers who might be loyal and happy, but are the least likely to talk about their experiences and engage with brands.
  • 14 percent are Fence Sitters: customers who appear to be ambivalent about the service they receive; they don’t engage with brands or share their experiences.
  • 23 percent are Churners: those who will constantly be on the hunt for a better deal and won’t hesitate to leave if they are dissatisfied with services.

Nancy Treaster, senior vice president and general manager of strategic operations at Verint Enterprise Intelligence Solutions, cautions, though that service “is a two-way street” and  consumers should know that businesses “are willing to reward those who speak out to help improve loyalty, service, and performance.”

“This survey reveals a disconnect between the actual value of consumer feedback, and what consumers believe to be the impact of their shared input,” Treaster said in a statement

Among some of Verint’s other conclusions, based on the research, are the following:

  • Consumers gain nothing by withholding complaints, and, in fact, the more feedback they share—both  positive and negative—the more rewards they stand to gain.
  • Businesses need to let customers know they are willing to reward them for speaking up to help inform and improve the customer experience.
  • Consumers should strive to become brand champions by being vocal about positive and negative experiences and by giving direct feedback to companies.

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