80% of companies claim they deliver 'superior' customer service. Only 8% of customers think the same. Forrester, 2012

Nobody likes listening to a tone-deaf singer.

A little wavering pitch here and there is forgivable, but the worst thing is when a terrible singer has no idea that they’re terrible, and that they have completely lost the audience. That’s why companies and their marketers need to pay attention to their audience.

Lots of marketers think they’re in touch with their consumers, and that the high standards and best practices that they try to deliver are noticed and appreciated by their customers. Most marketing departments believe they get their audience better than the average company. Well, remember the tone-deaf singer from earlier? Consider this their warm-up.

Most companies have no idea how they are actually perceived by their audience; the numbers back this up. According to research company Forrester, a whopping 80% of companies claim they deliver ‘superior’ customer service. Guess what? Only 8% of customers think the same. And that gigantic, cavernous 72% schism between perception and reality? That’s money that is being mis-budgeted and mismanaged. And that’s because there’s a big difference between how the company thinks they are performing, versus how well they are actually performing.

The disparities between perception and reality only get worse for marketers. According to IBM and Econsultancy, 81% of companies believe they have a ‘holistic’ view of their customers, while only 26% of customers believe companies are actually in touch with their lives. Furthermore, a robust 47% of companies boast of having ‘strong capabilities’ for providing relevant communication with customers, while less than half that many customers – just 21% – say that the communications they receive from average companies are actually relevant.

Marketers must invest in the most basic data of all – customer feedback. - Highlight to share -

This is why marketers must invest in the most basic data of all – customer feedback. It is not the worst thing in the world to be a tone-deaf singer – after all, even someone tone-deaf still hits the right notes every now and then. But for marketers, it is the worst thing in the world to be misdirecting your precious budget.

If you think you’re doing well in terms of customer satisfaction when really you’re falling behind, you risk losing the loyalty of many customers, all without realising it, or knowing why. If you think you’re doing well in understanding your customers’ needs when you’re not even close, you risk designing an entire marketing campaign that totally misses the point.

So make sure your perception and your customers’ reality match. Just ask them.

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