Switching Service-Provider Economy in U.S. Represents $1.3 Trillion Opportunity

According to the ninth annual Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Survey,which looked at consumer attitudes toward marketing, sales and customer service practices, 51% of customers in the U.S. switched providers in the past year due to poor customer service, up 5% from 2012, while 81% said that the company could have done something differently to prevent them from switching.

The report says that while service providers, from retailers to phone companies to banks, have more data and insights into consumer desires and preferences than ever before, providers have failed to meaningfully improve customer satisfaction or reverse rising switching rates among their customers.The financial impact of customer switching revealed that there is a potential $1.3 trillion of revenues at play in the U.S. market represented by the ‘Switching Economy’

The research overall looked at 10 industries in 32 countries and polled more than 12,800 customers. In addition to the above, the survey analyzed changes in customer satisfaction and expectations, specific frustrations with providers’ customer service and marketing, use of digital/social media channels and their effectiveness and loyalty effectiveness. 

The report says 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
  • 89% by having to repeat their issue to multiple representatives
  • 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
  • 58% are frustrated with inconsistent experiences from channel to channel

While up in some categories, the survey revealed that customer satisfaction levels have generally remained stagnant across industry sectors and overall satisfaction fell by 1% since 2012. Additionally, the rate of loyalty barely budged among U.S. customers, rising just 1% since 2012, and customers’ willingness to recommend a company rose by just 2%.

Against the high percentage of customers reporting they had switched providers in the last year, 81% said that the company could have done something differently to prevent them from switching. And, while the survey showed that price still plays an important role in the choice of provider, the customer experience is equally important.

Robert Wollan, global managing director, Accenture Sales & Customer Services, reports that “… changing customer behaviors in the digital marketplace… low levels of customer satisfaction… are fueling a switching economy that presents opportunities… to win… (requiring) an aggressive approach… creating genuinely engaging customer experiences that today’s nonstop customers are seeking but obviously not finding with their current providers…”

48% of U.S. customers use third-party online sources, says the report, 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. Word-of-mouth, including that shared via social media, continues to be the most important and impactful source of company information across industries and is used by 71% of the surveyed customers. Regarding the number of online channels used, 75% of respondents now use one or more online channel when researching companies’ products and services and 33% use mobile devices to access these online channels. 

The gap between the use of digital technologies and the ability of companies to use them to improve customer experiences is highlighted by the survey’s findings that, among the 10 industries covered by the report, none made noticeable progress in providing customers with a tailored experience in 2013. In the utilities industry, only 18% of customers agreed their provider offered them a tailored experience. Even in industries, such as hotels and lodging and retail banking that are perceived to be leading in creating more personalized interactions, only 36% of customers acknowledge receiving a tailored experience, respectively.

Yet, while social media and online are regarded as important sources of information, one of the greatest frustrations customers have with companies is the perceived risk to privacy. 82% of U.S. customers report that they feel companies they buy from cannot be trusted on how they use personal information provided to them.

The report found that companies that delivered valued customer experiences exhibited five common high impact capabilities, known as the customer-driven digital blueprint. These capabilities include:

  • Hyper-relevance: Show customers the company applies every interaction at a more personal level, including customizing their channel and interaction preferences, so customers don’t have to repeat themselves or hit unnecessary roadblocks.
  • Relationships at Scale: Digital gives businesses rich channels through which to communicate with customers in much more personal ways. Use digital to bring the intimacy of the corner store to all customers and then give them more convenient access and more tailored services
  • Seamless Experience: Creating a seamless experience requires a multi-channel approach. Integrate information and processes that enable customers to flow easily across different channels
  • Inherently Mobile: Learn from customers about what they want to do differently with mobile, and invest in mobile services and support capabilities
  • Naturally Social: Harness social media in order to deliver up-to-the-second customer preferences, greater levels of trust, a mechanism for direct and dynamic interaction and more and more usable data

To download the complete report, please visit Accenture here.



Next story loading loading..