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Corporate America Under Pressure From Consumers' Rising Expectations

42% of Business Leaders Say Consumers Shame Them on Social Media

SAN FRANCISCO – June 2, 2015 – Lithium Technologies shared results from its online survey – conducted on its behalf by Harris Poll in April and May 2015 among over 300 corporate executives who work at a company with revenue of $1B or more – showing that big business in America is feeling the effects of rising consumer expectations. While Lithium has revealed consumer data highlighting this trend, this year the company turned its research towards businesses to see if they are experiencing what consumers are reporting. The answer from executives appears to be a resounding “yes.” A whopping 82% of business leaders (VP level executives and higher) say that their customers have higher expectations compared to just three years ago. 60% admitted it is difficult to please their customers. And 42% note that customers use social media to shame their company into doing what the consumer wants.

“The consumer is forever changed,” said Rob Tarkoff, president and CEO of Lithium Technologies. “Social media and the rise of non-traditional, web-based entrants into established industries have evolved their expectations. Consumers use digital channels to find and share information, reviews, and insider tips. At the same time, they are using those channels to suggest improvements and sometimes shame brands into solving their problems. Business leaders are taking note of what this means to their image and bottom line—and rushing to find innovative ways to adapt.”

One of the biggest findings in the poll showed that 78% of business leaders agree that the Internet and consumer app companies are setting a new benchmark for “customer experiences” in their industry.

As Tarkoff continued, “Yelp has changed dining experiences and made it possible for everyone to be a food critic. Uber has forever changed urban transportation. Airbnb has pressured the hotel industry. Netflix has changed the way we watch TV. And of course Amazon has changed the rules of retail for every retailer—online or otherwise. Whether a company competes directly with these companies or others like them, the Internet has created a consumer expectation that all companies now must meet.”

In fact, when asked in which ways rising consumer expectations have put pressure on their company, business leaders responded with some very interesting results:

  • 65% say increased pressure to innovate
  • 58% say increased competition with other companies
  • 52% say increased costs to serve the customer
  • 30% say increased customer turnover
  • 29% say slowed revenue growth
  • 28% say increased the amount of discounts their company provides to customers
  • 17% say reduced their market share

Tarkoff concluded, “All businesses need to get savvier about responding to the new consumer—and find ways to reap the benefits of digital business while minimizing the negative impacts. The good news our survey showed is that 93% of business leaders say their company is adapting to the digital transformation. But do their approaches have scale and staying power? That is the next big question.”

An infographic of the survey’s findings is available online here. Last year’s consumer survey of extreme expectations is available here and the corresponding consumer infographic is available here.

Survey Methodology

Harris Poll conducted the survey online on behalf of Lithium Technologies within the United States from April 24 – May 6, 2015, among a total of 311 corporate executives at companies with revenue of $1 billion or more.

About Lithium

Lithium builds trusted relationships between the world’s best brands and their customers, helping people get answers and share their experiences. Customers in more than 34 countries rely on Lithium to help them connect, engage, and understand their total community. With more than 100 million unique monthly visitors over all Lithium communities and another 600 million online profiles scored by Klout, Lithium has one of the largest digital footprints in the world. Using that data and the company’s software, Lithium customers boost sales, reduce service costs, spark innovation, and build long-term brand loyalty and advocacy. To find out how Lithium can transform your business—and to share the experience enjoyed by 300 other leading brands around the world, visit, join our community at, or follow us on Twitter @LithiumTech. Lithium is a privately held company headquartered in San Francisco.

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