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Accenture: Consumers Want Companies to Fight Harder to Keep Them

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 6, 2012 12:01 PM

One in five consumers in 2012 switched companies they buy from including wireless phone, internet service and retailers according to new research released today from Accenture. 

The Accenture Global Consumer Survey polled more than 12,000 consumers in 32 countries and found that 85% of consumers would have stayed if their provider had acted differently. “Companies need to embrace the changing dynamics of what we call the nonstop customer experience,” Robert Wollan, global managing director of the Accenture Sales & Customer Services told brandchannel.

“The traditional customer-engagement funnel—beginning with cultivating awareness and ending with securing a customer’s purchase and loyalty—has lost its relevance. After all, many of today’s buyers neither enter nor exit a channel at one single point. As long as they’re using a smartphone, tablet or Internet-enabled PC, they are continuously in the channel.”

Two-thirds (67%) of respondents said if their customer service issue had been resolved during their first contact, followed by more than half (54%) saying if they had been rewarded for doing more business with their provider, they might have stayed. 

“Marketers can do a better of job setting expectations for what the company will deliver. Customers are really asking for consistency,” said Wollan. 

Broken promises are top-of-mind in consumer frustration with nearly two-thirds (63%) disenchanted with delivery of a different customer service experience than what was promised upfront, and 78% likely to switch providers when this occurs.

Other frustrations making consumers more likely to switch: having to contact customer service multiple times for the same reason (65%); dealing with unfriendly customer service agents (65%); being kept on hold for long periods when contacting customer service (61%).

“Customers are not as inherently nomadic as we might assume. To keep them from switching, customers want more recognition for their business, more tailored offers and better use of the data they provide,” adds Wollan. 

Close to half (48%) say their expectations of specialized treatment for being a “good” customer have risen since one year ago, and 50% say it is extremely important for customer service people to know their history and not require a repetition of personal data with every call.

Out of ten industries covered, the largest rises in switching were among wireless phone providers, with 26% of consumers switching in 2012, up from 21% in 2011; internet service providers, 23% switched, up from 19% in 2011 and retailers, 22% switched, up from 16% in 2011. Providers in travel and tourism, retail banking and life insurance earn the highest marks with 32% praising travel and tourism providers followed by 27% in retail banking and 25% of life insurance providers. 

“Many companies…approach their customers with a decades-old, ‘one size fits all’ sales and service model that they must evolve to satisfy the different ways consumers want to interact with the companies they buy from,” said Kevin Quiring, managing director of Accenture Sales & Customer Services in North America.

Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are used by 47% with 31% of consumers relying on posts from people they know, and 28% acknowledging positive comments in social media affecting purchase decisions while 28% say negative comments do the same.

Consumers on average use five to six channels to research and select providers. WOM is tops with 79%, followed by corporate websites at 71%, and expert review sites, news sites and product comparison sites at 63%.

“Companies need to create the best, most relevant experience at every customer touchpoint," Wollan added. "This does not necessarily require more campaigns, websites and costs to appeal to each segment. It does mean putting analytics to work, ensuring each experience and site visit is precise and relevant to each target."

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