With economic slowdown in the news everyday, you could be forgiven for thinking that knowing your customer – the foundation of good marketing — is keeping marketers awake at night.

That doesn’t seem to be the case. 

The Chartered Institute of Marketing reports that marketers in the retail, leisure and distribution sector are increasingly pessimistic about the economic outlook.

More than a third (35%) believe the UK will be in recession in 2008, and 54% believe economic conditions in the UK will worsen in the coming year.  In stringent times, keeping the customers you have is sound business. Recent research suggests that marketers don’t place as much importance on service and care as customers themselves.

‘Exploring the link between customer care and brand reputation in the age of social media’, published by the Society for New Communications Research, produced some interesting findings that e-commerce managers should take careful note of:

  • 72.2% of respondents said they at least sometimes research companies’ customer care online before purchasing products and services.
  • 84% said they consider the quality of customer care at least sometimes in their decision to do business with a company.
  • 74% said they choose companies or brands based on others’ customer care experiences that are shared online.
  • 81% believe that blogs, online rating systems, and discussion forums can give consumers a greater voice regarding customer care.
  • 59.1% use social media to vent their feelings about customer care experiences.

Worryingly however, less than one-third believe that businesses take customers’ opinions seriously.

In other research, the Chief Marketing Officer Council suggests that many marketers are ill equipped to deliver good customer care. In ‘Business gain from how you retain’, only 6% of marketers say they have ‘excellent knowledge of the customer’ – a prerequisite for delivering good customer care. According to the study, a staggering 50% of marketers around the world reported having any strategy for further penetrating or growing their key account relationships.

Imagine going to your CEO and saying ‘Listen boss, I have this new strategy – lets just ignore the potential growth opportunities that our existing customers represent’. This strategy is backed up by the data – more than 50% of respondents said they have fair, little or no knowledge of their customers.

That’s not marketing, it’s suicide.

David Jackson is the Managing Director of