"Despite an increased emphasis on their customers, most b-to-b technology companies continue to fall short in meeting customer expectations, according to a study released this week by the Chief Marketing Officer Council.
The online study, conducted in the last six months, took the pulse of 1,000 top b-to-b technology buyers, IT marketing and customer relationship executives and their channel partners.
According to the study, 56% of vendors perceive themselves as being customer-centric, but only 12% of customers agree.
(I think we can all agree that 12% statistic is deplorable. But my concern is that 56% figure, since the implication is a lot of myopic marketers.)
"The study also found that more than 30% of customer respondents said they would terminate relationships with companies that fail to gain their trust; 62% of would scale back existing relationships; and 7% would no longer consider the vendor for future business."
(I talk trust quite a bit here--and how it directly affects the bottom line. Sadly, most companies don't understand how tough and expensive trust is to earn back...until they've already lost it.)
"More than half of customers surveyed described their relationship with vendors as "dependent and captive," "struggling for common ground" or, in the worst scenario, "combative and adversarial."'
(Which adjective up there do you find most alarming--captive or combative?)
I'm going to make an educated assumption here: it's not just BtoB technology buyers that feel these levels of dissatisfaction. I've worked BtoB a lot more than BtoC for the last 7 years and one of my sticking points is when a client wants to claim the "trusted advisor/trusted partner" role. I'm always asking how they can prove that--and how their customers view them. Many times they're grasping to tell me customer feedback, so maybe '08 can be a return to the basics of listening to and working with customers...because with a 12% approval rating, there's much work to do on some very basic fronts (talking Marketing 101 not Web 2.0 fronts)
CMO Council's website is here (and thanks to them for compiling the report.)
PS: Two ways to guard against myopia are to (1) listen to customers and (2) interact with customers through initiatives such as Customer Advisory Boards (which I'll write on and videocast on in the coming weeks).