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NRF: Retailers add more than 15,000 jobs in September

BY Marianne Wilson

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Retail Federation calculated retail industry job gains at 15,200 in September, and 289,000 jobs year-over-year, a 2.4% increase over the same month last year and 2% higher than total private sector jobs over the past year.

“The pace of growth in retail hires has slowed, similar to what the rest of the labor market is experiencing,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz “Americans need to believe we are on a solid path out of this troubled economy and so far, they haven’t been given any reason to believe that, thus impacting their spending decisions and retailers’ ability to increase their payrolls.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics employment report showed that the economy added 148,000 jobs in September, which lowered the unemployment rate to 7.2%.

 

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Mission Pharmacal launches Aquoral for dry mouth

BY Antoinette Alexander

SAN ANTONIO — Mission Pharmacal Co. has announced the launch of prescription-only Aquoral, a dry-mouth relief oral spray that promises to moisten and lubricate the mouth for up to four hours.

Dry mouth, or xerostomia, affects about 25 million Americans. It refers to a decreased production of saliva, a condition common in older adults as well as those taking certain prescription medications. Studies show that dry mouth affects up to 60% of patients taking an anticholinergic medication to treat such a urologic condition as overactive bladder. Other causes include radiotherapy and such systemic diseases as Sjögren’s Syndrome.

Symptoms of dry mouth include an uncomfortable dry (like cotton), sticky or burning sensation in the mouth. Dry mouth also can cause cracked lips, dry tongue, mouth sores and ulcers, mouth infections and dental decay.

“Dry mouth is more than an annoying problem,” said Dan Crawford, marketing director of the urology division at Mission Pharmacal. “It can significantly decrease patients’ quality of life by making it difficult to chew, swallow, taste and even speak. Most home remedies, such as chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on ice chips, provide only temporary relief from these symptoms. Over-the-counter remedies, which are water-based, don’t last much longer.”

According to the manufacturer, what makes Aquoral different from most from other dry mouth solutions is that it utilizes patented oxidized glycerol triesters technology, a plant-derived, lipid-based technology designed to function like human saliva, forming a protective barrier on the oral mucosa that lasts up to four hours.

“Even though patients need a prescription for Aquoral, it is a non-drug, FDA-cleared medical device that was shown to be more effective and longer lasting than an artificial saliva substitute. This is a breakthrough product for patients who are experiencing dry mouth due to medications or other causes,” Crawford added.

Aquoral, which is available by prescription only, will be launched with a Patient Savings Card to make it more affordable to patients by offering up to $75 savings on their first prescription and $40 on future refills. This means that most patients will pay no more than $25 for a six- to eight-week supply of Aquoral, the company stated.

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Retailers among companies with highest customer switch rates

BY Dan Berthiaume

NEW YORK — Despite having more data and insights into consumer desires and preferences, companies in the United States have failed to meaningfully improve customer satisfaction or reverse rising switching rates among their customers. As a result, there is a potential $1.3 trillion of revenue at play in the U.S. market represented by the ‘switching economy’, according to new research released by Accenture.

The research revealed that 51% of U.S. consumers switched service providers in the past year due to poor customer service experiences, up 5% from 2012. Switching rates were highest among retailers, cable and satellite providers and retail banks, making companies in these sectors the most vulnerable, but also giving them potentially the most to gain.

The survey found that customers are increasingly frustrated with the level of services they experience: 91% of respondents are frustrated that they have to contact a company multiple times for the same reason; 90% by being put on hold for a long time; and 89% by having to repeat their issue to multiple representatives. There are also frustrations with marketing and sales practices: 85% of customers are frustrated by dealing with a company that does not make it easy to do business with them; 84% by companies promising one thing, but delivering another; and 58% are frustrated with inconsistent experiences from channel to channel.

Other findings include:

  • Overall customer satisfaction fell by 1% since 2012, while customer loyalty rose 1% and willingness to recommend a company rose 2%.
  • 81% of customers who switched providers in the past year said the company could have done something differently to prevent them from switching, with customer service equally important as price.
  • 48% of U.S. customers use third-party online sources, such as official review sites, and 25% use customer reviews and comments from social media sites, to find out information about a company’s products and services.
  • 71% of customers use word-of-mouth.
  • 75% of respondents now use one or more online channels when researching companies’ products and services, and 33% use mobile devices to access these online channels.
  • 82% of customers say they feel companies they buy from cannot be trusted on how they use personal information provided to them.

“Changing customer behaviors in the digital marketplace and low levels of customer satisfaction are fueling a switching economy that presents opportunities as well as threats. But too many companies are playing not to lose instead of playing to win in this switching economy,” said Robert Wollan, global managing director at Accenture Sales and Customer Services. “Growth is harder to come by in many sectors but the switching economy presents a source of new, sustainable, profitable growth for companies that are playing to win and gain marketshare. To win requires an aggressive approach that goes beyond implementing technology to creating genuinely engaging customer experiences that today’s nonstop customers are seeking but obviously not finding with their current providers.”

 

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