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We don't trust 'em, they don't trust us

July 17 2003

Only one in 20 customers trust blue chip Australian companies and just one in 40 believe the companies trust them, new research has found.

The Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals today releases a Consumer Emotions Study, which surveyed 4000 Australians about their experiences with nine blue chip organisations.

While customers were generally satisfied with the companies, many blue chips were not delivering the brand's marketing promise in their operations, said Wayne Croker, managing director of one of the research firms, Evalue.

"There's clearly a difference between the goals, the language, the measures of the marketing department and the measures of operations and customer service," Mr Croker said.

His co-researcher, consumer psychologist Michael Edwardson, said consumers' emotions about companies were usually developed from direct experience rather than through marketing and branding.

"You actually find out what the experiences are and it doesn't seem quite as important as, say, the Saatchi & Saatchi lovemarks," he said.

Lovemarks are the brainchildren of Saatchi's global chief Kevin Roberts, who believes a brand can earn "the power of love" created through "life-long emotional connections".

Although SOCAP would not name the nine Australian companies included in its study - as they paid to receive tailored results - two were telecoms, two utilities and the others were automotive, aviation, financial services, homes services and government services operations.

The researchers found only 14 per cent of customers were satisfied with responses to queries and complaints. But they also said that the emotion of disappointment was particularly troublesome as it was difficult to detect or manage but could slowly eat away at loyalty.

The study uncovered a proportion of consumers who stayed loyal to brands even though they did not like them - either because they said there were no better alternatives or they were committed to contracts.

"You have customers that tick the bottom end of the satisfaction scale and they tell you they are satisfied," Mr Croker said.

The research, therefore, specified the emotions customers said they experienced, rather than just levels of satisfaction. It found emotions such as "satisfied", "secure", "impressed", "pleased", "contented" and "indifferent" to be the most common.


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