With an ever-growing number of free and publicly accessible online communication choices available to consumers, a recent Maritz Research Consumer Preferences study indicates that consumers overwhelmingly expect their voices to be heard by companies via the web. Not only do they expect companies to be listening, but 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. Download the official news release.
Key Findings and Conclusions By Maritz Research
- The voice of the customer is increasingly heard online
- Consumers are happy when businesses respond to public comments
- Responding to the voice of the customer requires the ability to listen to the voice of the customer
- Not all uses of online data are equal in the eyes of the consumer
What exactly do these findings mean? The following FAQ provides some additional context.
How was the information gathered for this study?
The Consumer Preferences study, which was conducted April 18-22, reviewed responses from an online panel of 1400 respondents.
Who was surveyed?
A random sample of US adults, age 18 and older, balanced demographically by age, income and place of residence.
What did this study specifically analyze?
The questionnaire focused on three key areas: awareness, uses and preference of consumer feedback mechanisms; awareness and opinions of other uses of Web analytics; and demographics. Consumer feedback mechanisms were categorized into two main groups: direct and online.
What’s the difference between direct and online feedback?
Direct feedback refers to the use of traditional communication channels, such as sending an e-mail, placing a telephone call and writing a letter. Online feedback refers to public methods of communicating, such as using Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Were any of the findings surprising?
Despite increased concern over online privacy, customers who received a response to a public comment were overwhelmingly positive about the fact that the company responded, regardless of how well the company actually handled the issues. With 27 percent “delighted” with a response to their public feedback, compared to only 6 percent for a response to their direct feedback, they were, in fact, more likely to be happy about companies responding to public comments than direct feedback.
The study also found that the majority of consumers are unaware of the different ways online information is used by companies. However, when they do understand those uses, the sentiment is generally favorable. Most notably, 84 percent of consumers favored using information to help a dissatisfied customer.
Why is this study coming out now?
Recently, there has been a lot of interest in the online communication preferences of consumers. The marketing research industry has not yet fully embraced consumer-generated and social media. Major industry associations treat social media with the same broad guidelines as they do with survey respondents – this means that social media postings are considered private communications and these industry organizations discourage the use of these data without obtaining the permission of the social media user. In light of increasing interest surrounding this topic, Maritz Research saw a need to help its clients better understand how consumers prefer to interact with companies in the new media landscape. For more than 30 years Maritz Research has collected information representing the voice of the consumer.
Was age a factor in the preferences of those surveyed?
The study found that preferred consumer contact methods are closely related to age. Young adult consumers increasingly prefer online public feedback over direct, with 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.