Customer Switching Reaching All-Time Highs

Consumer expectations about what they expect from the companies with whom they do business are rising quickly, and many of those companies are failing to keep up. 

According to Accenture’s ninth annual Global Consumer Pulse Survey (which surveyed more than 12,000 consumers worldwide and more than 1,200 in the U.S.), more than half of U.S. consumers (51%) switched service providers (across a number of different sectors) last year, a 5% increase over the previous year. As a result of this switching, the company estimates there’s a potential $1.3 trillion in revenue at play as a result of consumers looking to switch service providers. 

“It’s significantly bigger than you would expect,” Robert Wollan, global managing director of Accenture Sales & Services, tells Marketing Daily. “We’ve seen no slowdown or decline in the concept of switching. ... This is a trend that’s here to stay.”



The high level of switching comes from companies failing to meet consumer expectations, Wollan says. According to the survey, 91% of consumers were frustrated that they had to contact a company multiple times for the same issue; 90% said they had been put on hold for a long time, and 89% said they had to repeat their issue to multiple representatives. Meanwhile, 84% of consumers said they were frustrated with companies that promised one thing, but delivered another, and 58% were frustrated with inconsistent experiences from channel to channel. 

Part of the issue, Wollan says, is that consumer expectations continue to rise even as companies are struggling to keep up. “Customer expectations are rising every year,” he says. “You have to skate to where the puck will be, rather than fixing the problems of a year ago.”

Despite customer switching rates being higher than they’ve ever been, 81% of consumers said their provider could have done something differently to prevent a customer from leaving. Among the improvements companies can make to reduce switching is to use the data they’re collecting on customers in relevant ways that make consumers feel valued personally and to make sure the customer experience is fluid across all contact channels, Wollan says. 

However, companies need to ensure their retention efforts are in place before going after those customers that are looking to switch providers, he says. 

“You’ve got to fix the leaky bucket,” Wollan says. “[Companies have] got to concentrate on why customers stay, then they can focus on getting new customers.”

2 comments about "Customer Switching Reaching All-Time Highs".
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  1. Scott Hample from Baltimore Sun Media Group, October 23, 2013 at 12:15 p.m.

    Is the author talking about wireless carriers or all service providers? It is not clear.

  2. Aaron Baar from Mediapost, October 23, 2013 at 12:32 p.m.

    The study refers to several different industries (including utilities and travel), not just wireless service providers.

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