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Al's Column

August 19/26 2013; Volume 27/number 9

By FCNews Staff

CUSTOMER LOYALTY: Good—and bad—customer service interactions affect brand loyalty, according to survey results from Dimensional Research/ZenDesk (information provided by “QuickBites” by Sam Geist). Sixty-two percent of B2B and 42% of B2C customers purchased more after a good experience, and 66% and 52%, respectively, stopped making purchases after a bad experience (Note: Respondents reported being more likely to share bad than good experiences.) Overall, 95% of respondents who had a bad experience said they told someone about it, compared with 87% who shared a good experience. Respondents who suffered a bad interaction were 50% more likely to share it on social media than those who had good experiences (45% versus 30%), 52% more likely to share it on an online review site such as Yelp (35% versus 23%). That’s particularly problematic for companies with bad reviews: Separate results from the survey indicate 86% of respondents who have read negative reviews claimed the information impacted their buying decision. Propensity to share bad customer service was above average among Gen X (age 36 to 50) respondents (99%) and those with annual household income of more than $150,000 (100%). Those groups were also more likely to share a positive experience (95% and 100%, respectively).

HOMEBUILDER CONFIDENCE: Builders’ confidence in the market for single-family homes rose three points to 59 on the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for August. This is the fourth consecutive monthly gain, and it brings the index to its highest level in nearly eight years. Two of the HMI’s three components posted gains in August. The component gauging current sales conditions rose three points to 62, while the component gauging sales expectations in the next six months gained a single point to 68, while the component gauging traffic of prospective buyers held unchanged at 45.
All but one region saw a gain in its three-month moving average HMI score in August. The Midwest and West each posted six-point increases to 60 and 57, respectively, while the South posted a four-point gain to 54 and the Northeast held unchanged at 39.

CASH SALES: More than half of all homes sold last year and this year have been financed without a mortgage, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The journal, citing an analysis by economists at Goldman Sachs Group, said that approximately 20% of sales before the housing crash were “all-cash” sales but the all-cash share of sales has more than doubled. The Goldman study analyzed home sales figures from the Census Bureau and the National Association of Realtors and mortgage-origination data from the Mortgage Bankers Association and Lender Processing Services.

REPOSSESSIONS LOW: Home repossessions are on track to hit a six-year low, according to tracking firm RealtyTrac. Lenders repossessed 36,964 U.S. homes last month, down 31% from July last year, the firm said. At the current monthly average, completed foreclosures are projected to total nearly 490,000 this year, down 27% from last year and the lowest amount since 2007. Foreclosures peaked in 2010 at 1.05 million.

SENTIMENT FALLS: Consumer sentiment in August declined from last month’s six-year high, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index. August’s preliminary reading was 80, down from 85.1 in July. Economists were expecting a reading of 85.5. The current economic conditions category showed the biggest decline. However, the overall decline was not big enough to suggest the economic expansion will stall, said survey director Richard Curtin. “Perhaps the most important recent changes have been the increase in home values as well as the jump in the numbers that expect interest rate increases during the year ahead.”