My colleague Bill Stephensen, VP of Auto at Nielsen BuzzMetrics, clearly articulates the inextricable economic link between customer satisfaction, customer service and customer-generated media:
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) is one of my favorite research studies in the auto industry because it links customer satisfaction and profitability. While the two are obviously related, I often wonder if major companies (auto and otherwise) forget that when they prioritize resources for those employees who deal directly with customers. In fact, I used to be one of these low-paid, recent college graduates talking to owners of a product that I was relatively unfamiliar with. Moreover, of any employee in the company, I was among the least vested in the success of the company and yet, the satisfaction and loyalty of customers was, at least in part, under my control.
In talking about the financial implications of the ACSI, the website says this, "A basic tenet of the ACSI is that satisfied customers represent a real, albeit intangible, economic asset to a firm. The modern economy â€“ characterized by service and information exchange “ calls for measurements of intangible assets critical for economic returns. The ACSI is a tool that allows managers and investors to relate satisfaction to future streams of income.”
To relate this to Consumer-Generated Media, I would re-word the above to something like this: A basic tenet of Consumer-Generated Media is that vocal, online, dissatisfied customers represent a real, albeit intangible, economic liability to a firm.
In this ‘modern economy – characterized by service and information exchange’, firms absolutely must be listening to their most vocal satisfied and dissatisfied customers.