Not listening

Customer feedback fury: Consumers convinced companies ignore comments


New research reveals that nearly a third of consumers believe companies never read customer feedback. 

27th Jan 2023

It turns out that ignorance might not be bliss after all. New research conducted by Emarsys has revealed that organisations are nowhere near as successful at dealing with customer feedback as they believe. 

The study found that while 69% of businesses state that they review feedback in detail and make changes based on the insights, a mere 16% of UK consumers say that retailers react to their feedback. And over a quarter (29%) of consumers believe that their feedback goes completely unread. 

Indeed, the findings of the report outline a complete lack of trust and belief in the feedback system, with 28% of consumers believing that their feedback is being used purely for marketing purposes rather than to shape meaningful changes.

If the retailers surveyed are demonstrative of the UK as a whole, the major issue is not the inability of companies to act on feedback, but their inability to communicate this to their customers.

So how can retailers bridge the divide and send a clear message that they are taking feedback seriously?

The medium or the message?

Can you still use the phrase, ‘easier said than done’ when the issue lies in communication?

On the surface, it may appear simple to communicate the changes and improvements being made based on customer feedback, and in doing so improve consumer trust and belief in the process.

However, once again the underlying disparity between company and consumer makes things far more difficult, with the research revealing that one in five UK consumers (21%) never want to hear from retailers, despite just 0.4% of brands believing that this is the case.

Moreover, a further 18% of surveyed consumers only want to be contacted monthly, with 10% only wishing to be contacted every 2-3 weeks – meaning almost half of all UK consumers do not want weekly contact with retail brands.

By contrast, 21% of businesses believe that their customers want to hear from them every single day, 30% state that they wish to be contacted multiple times a week, and 25% are of the opinion that consumers want them to get in touch on a weekly basis.

The numbers speak for themselves in highlighting the disconnect between what customers desire and what companies believe they desire. So it comes as no surprise that when the channels of communication are so misaligned, retailers are struggling to effectively convey their message about feedback to customers.

According to Emarsys, this disconnect could be due to a lack of omnichannel strategy. For retailers, it’s not necessarily about cutting contact –  it’s about the right kind of contact and understanding exactly what customers want to hear from them, and where they want to hear about it.

In fact, 29% of consumers would still like to hear about upcoming sales in-store, while over a third (34%) want to hear about upcoming sales via email, and 21% want to hear about them on social media.

A loyal customer is a trusting customer

Another problem that the research outlines is the lack of trust between customers and companies. Even if communication channels are improved, it is clear that many consumers simply do not believe the information they are receiving from retailers.

In order to earn back the trust of their customers, Emarsys believes that companies must focus on improving customer loyalty.

For UK consumers, rewarding customer loyalty (32%) tops the list of what they want to see from retailers in 2023; with improving customer service (30%), more sustainability (24%), and understanding customers better (22%) also featuring prominently.

In a bucking of the trend, rewarding customer loyalty also featured as one of the top priorities for retailers (37%), displaying a rare alignment of customer and company perceptions.

For UK consumers, rewarding customer loyalty (32%) tops the list of what they want to see from retailers in 2023.

The journey of improved customer loyalty, leading to improved customer trust, leading to a more transparent and effective feedback model, may seem fairly straightforward but there’s the odd pothole along the way.

The major issue in the above plan is the difficulty of improving customer loyalty during a cost-of-living crisis.

There is no denying that during this time of hardship, many consumers will understandably only be interested in getting their goods for the lowest possible price. However, there are still steps companies can take that do not involve slashing prices.

As John Aves, chief executive of CP2 Experience, so eloquently puts it: “Double-digit inflation, soaring interest rates and spiralling living costs means consumers will be looking for brands like yours to step up in ways that align with their own sense of purpose, support them as individuals and help mitigate the impact of the biggest financial shock for a generation.

“For all sectors, responding to the customer’s personal situation and needs increases satisfaction. Customers in the ICS report who felt an organisation did this gave an average UKCSI score of 83.7 out of 100. This was much higher than when an organisation failed to do so. The score was just 53.9. Remember, high levels of satisfaction convert into increased loyalty.”


Replies (2)

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Kari Thor Runarsson
By KariThor_Cliezen
29th Jan 2023 18:14

Would be interesting to see a similar study for B2B - I can only hope that it's a little better.
Surprisingly few companies seem to close the feedback loop which is why we've made it a central feature in our product. This is then reflected in a much higher response rate that our clients are seeing compared to before or if compared to average industry response rates.
If your clients get the feeling that the feedback they provide is actually being read and reacted to they will be happy to provide feedback on their experience. This is especially true in B2B.

Thanks (2)
Replying to KariThor_Cliezen:
By Neil Davey
30th Jan 2023 09:21

Thanks for your comment. It's a good point - one would like to think that response rates are considerably better in B2B as it's harder to ignore the feedback of a smaller number of more important customers... but I'd like to see the data that backs that up!

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