Thought leadership

Vendor Genesys has released its Getting Closer to the Customer Report written by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The global study surveyed more than 798 senior executives worldwide, finding that more than half (58 per cent) of C-level respondents consider the CEO responsible for new customer communications channels such as social media and mobile.

However, less than a third (28 per cent) of middle managers agree with their superiors’ assessment, and 38 per cent of those non C-suite executives pinpoint the marketing department as having the ultimate responsibility in this area.

Key Facts:

  • Fifty eight per cent of C-suite Execs see the CEO as responsible for the social media and mobile channels, but only 28 per cent of middle managers agree. The disconnect between top-level and mid-ranking executives might be explained by the novelty factor of social media.

  • When it comes to driving the customer conversation, the marketing department, not customer service or the C-suite, is driving the response to new channels with 44 per cent of executives saying the marketing department has dominated the dialogue between company and customer.

  • The report also found that 43 per cent of companies only began using social media in the last year and only 11 per cent of businesses have been using social media to communicate with customers for three years or more.

  • Customer Service has not been a priority with new communications channels. Only 42 per cent of organisations use call centres to communicate with customers and just 6 per cent see customer support/service as the main purpose of new communication channels.

Additional Findings of Interest:

  • 60 per cent of companies that have set up new communication strategies put millennials in charge of new media channels.

  • Only 48 per cent of organisations use social media and networking sites to communicate with customers and only 20 per cent use mobile applications, whereas the majority continue to lean on the company website (90 per cent) and email (88 per cent).

  • Companies that appoint a single person, instead of a team, to manage all communications were more successful. Thirty-three per cent of executives within companies that have appointed a team to manage social media/mobile channels felt that there was a disconnect between teams that touch these channels. In organisations that had appointed a single individual to manage new channels, just 9 per cent perceived the same disconnect.

"Given the ubiquity of both mobile devices and social media like Facebook and Twitter, it is alarming that many companies are late to the party and have not clearly assigned responsibility for these channels," said Paul Segre, President and CEO of Genesys. "As companies tackle the demands of delivering a great customer experience across an increasing number of communication channels, their brand is ultimately at stake. Delivering an exceptional customer experience requires a comprehensive strategy for emerging mobile and social channels, including how they align and integrate with existing channels, and spanning both marketing and customer service organisations."

"The rapid adoption of social media and the huge growth in the mobile market go hand in hand, but companies seem very focused on social media as a singular force and don’t appear to have grasped how interconnected the two trends are," says Economist Intelligence Unit deputy editor Annabel Symington.

"Consumers now own the brand," said Frank Eliason, the senior vice president of social media at Citi, the international financial conglomerate, when interviewed for the report. "They tell each other what they are thinking, and what they are thinking is often negative. Companies in the past did not treat the customer experience as a key C-suite issue, and they are now paying the price."

"It's now much easier to stay in touch with the customer and form an ongoing dialogue," said Richard Binhammer, the director of social media and community at Dell, when interviewed for the report. "These closer relationships will increase customer loyalty, the likelihood of purchase and the average spend."

"Executives still believe that media is something they control, that goes from them to the customer. Deep down, they don’t understand the permanent nature of the new media," said Donna Hoffman, professor of marketing, A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management, University of California Riverside. "They need people constantly monitoring, responding, conveying a consistent message, analysing data. There’s this feeling that you appoint a small team to look after social media, and then the situation is dealt with. It isn’t."

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