According to the recently released study by Accenture, “Accenture Customer 2020,” measuring consumer experiences with marketing, sales and customer service, though customer expectations have steadily risen in 10 years, most companies have not been able to keep pace. As a result, the “Switching Economy,” the potential revenue up for grabs in the U.S. market due to changes in consumer spending patterns and switching rates, has swelled to $1.6 trillion, a 29% increase since 2010.
The study reveals how digital technologies have continued to reshape customer behavior and needs to the point at which all customers have become digital customers, albeit ones who move at different speeds. Yet it also shows that companies have struggled to keep pace with these changes—so much so that customers still encounter confusing web sites, staggering call center wait times, and difficulty solving their problems no matter which channel they use. It all adds up to increased customer switching.
The research provides a window into some of the dramatic changes that have occurred during the past 10 years in how consumers learn about companies and brands, purchase products and services, and access customer service and support as part of the customer journey. Consumers now:
The “Switching Economy” potential and its growth rate is estimated based on Accenture’s analysis of customer switching rates patterns, says the report, as well as consumer spending evolution across utilities, communications, financial services, insurance, consumer goods retail, consumer electronics and hotels and lodging across 17 countries. The Global Switching Economy is estimated at $6.2 trillion in 2014
Switching Economy: 5 Year Growth (Total Potential Estimate, In Trillion US$, Constant Values)
Potential (Trillion $)
Source: Accenture, July 2015
A customer’s path to purchase used to be generally predictable, flowing through stages of awareness, consideration, evaluation, purchase, and use, says the report. However, the research shows that this traditional sales and marketing funnel has been supplanted by a new model that’s driven by digital technologies. Today’s customer journey is dynamic, accessible and continuous because the digital touch points consumers are exposed to are always on, and customers can constantly re-evaluate their purchase options.
Enabled by technology, customers expect to easily control and vary their routes within and across channels to suit their needs at any given moment. While customers move at different speeds and take different paths, every customer is now a digital customer, from the traditional customer to the
As a result of these trends, today’s Nonstop Customers find it easier to compare a provider’s promise with its delivery and how the overall customer experience meets their own expectations, and subsequently make changes if they find their provider isn’t as “digitally intense” as they would want it to be, concludes the report.
The research has identified eight trends that illustrate the ongoing struggles companies face in keeping pace with a consumer base that seems to get further removed from them with each passing year:
The report concludes by noting that the shift from over-investing in cost cutting to an aggressive growth agenda has shifted the focus from internal efficiency improvements (e.g. paperless billing programs) to investments that make growth the highest priority in the business metrics that matter. This means an almost single-minded focus of resources on initiatives that customer analytics prove are truly relevant to customers and that deliver business results.
For the PDF file of the detailed report, please visit Accenture here.