Marketing's focus on relationship marketing is taking it further away from what consumers really want, according to research presented at last week's Marketing Forum.
Research carried out by strategic marketing consultancy Synesis found that CRM, as it is currently practised, is more likely to alienate consumers.
The research looked at customer satisfaction among US consumers and surveyed UK consumers and marketing directors. The findings, called 'Mind the Gap', show a huge gap developing between what companies promise and what they can deliver.
While the industry is focusing on customisation and one-to-one marketing, consumers are feeling bombarded by marketing messages and just want companies to fulfil their promises on the basics of products and services.
Stacey Clark, director of Synesis, said: 'Marketers are not focused on the delivery part. You can't have a relationship with customers unless you do what you say you'll do. Marketers are raising expectations, but the delivery part is not keeping up with that.'
In spite of the growth in relationship marketing activity, studies in the US show that customer satisfaction levels are lower than five years ago.
Satisfaction levels are highest in sectors where transactions are least complicated, such as customer products, and worst among more complex transactions, such as air travel and banking.
Companies making simple claims came out best. Powergen's 'If we fail to turn up on time, we'll give you pounds 50', John Lewis' 'Never knowingly undersold' and furniture retailer IKEA's 'Affordable solutions for better living' were liked the most.
According to the research, most marketing directors have a focused strategy to develop specific or individual relationships, but only 27% thought their company was good at developing individual relationships.
Marketers said they are happier with their sales and communications than product design, which contradicted many consumers.
Marketers similarly said they think more investment is needed in relationship marketing than delivery, which also contradicted the consumers' view.