Consumers Tell Companies: Listen To Me

ST. LOUIS – Consumers want companies to listen to their online voices, according to a survey conducted by the Maritz Research Consumer Preferences.

The study also reveals that 85 percent of consumers are very happy when businesses respond to their public comments in online forums and social media venues. That same sentiment is amplified among younger consumers.

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Consumers were asked about their use of direct feedback methods, such as sending an e-mail, placing a telephone call and writing a letter, and online public methods, such as using Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Customers who received a response from a public comment were overwhelmingly positive about the fact that the company responded, regardless of how well the company actually handled the issue.

Participants were more likely to be happy about companies responding to public comments than direct feedback. 27 percent of respondents reported they were   delighted” with a response to their public feedback, compared to only 6 percent for a response to their direct feedback. Only two percent of respondents indicated
they were “unhappy” with the response they received to public comments, demonstrating the acceptance of Web-based public feedback methods.

While all age groups still prefer direct feedback methods, young adult consumers increasingly choose online public feedback over direct.  33 percent of the youngest consumer age group (18 to 24-year-olds) preferring public feedback methods and 28 percent of those specifically favoring Facebook. The younger the consumer, the
more likely they are to prefer public over direct feedback methods.

“We know that companies increasingly need and want to understand the role of online public feedback methods,” said Jim Stone, executive vice president of innovation and marketing science for Maritz Research.

The Maritz Research study also took a close look at consumer awareness and favorability toward various uses of online information by companies. While most consumers are unaware of the different ways in which data is used, when they do understand those uses, the sentiment is generally favorable.

“The study showed that responding to the voice of the customer requires a business to stop and listen to what is being said, and then respond accordingly. Online public methods of feedback offer up a new layer of complexity as responses are able to be viewed by the Internet audience at large – as is the lack of response,” said Stone.

The Consumer Preferences study, which was conducted April 18-22, reviewed responses from an online panel of 1400 respondents.

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