According to research released last Thursday from Accenture, one in five consumers have switched companies they buy from this year. This includes wireless phone companies, Internet service, and retailers. The Accenture Global Consumer Survey polled over 12,000 consumers in 32 countries. They found that 85% of those consumers would have stayed with their original company if their provider had acted differently.

Two-thirds of the survey respondents said they may have stayed with their original company had their customer service issue been resolved during their first contact. More than half of the respondents said they would have stayed if they had been rewarded for doing more business with their provider.
According to Robert Wollan, global managing director of the Accenture Sales & Customer Services, the traditional customer-engagement funnel has lost its relevance. He quotes this as beginning with cultivating awareness and ending with securing a customer’s purchase and loyalty. He reports, “After all, many of today’s buyers neither enter nor exit a channel at one single point. As long as they’re using a smart phone, tablet or Internet-enabled PC, they are continuously in the channel.”

According to Wollan, what customers are really asking for is consistency. Broken promises are top-of-mind in customer frustration with nearly two-thirds disenchanted with the delivery of a different customer service experience than was promised upfront. Other frustrations that are making consumers more likely to switch companies is having to contact customer service multiple times for the same reason, dealing with unfriendly customer service agents, and being kept on hold for long periods of time when contacting customer service.

Close to half of the survey’s respondents say that their expectations of specialized treatment for being a “good” customer have risen since a year ago, and half say that it is very important for customer service people to know their history and not require a repetition of personal data with every call.

“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.

Many consumers say that they are highly influenced by social media, relying on positive and negative comments from people they know on Facebook and Twitter in order to make their purchasing decisions. Wollan emphasizes the importance of remaining relevant to consumers. He says this means “putting analytics to work, ensuring each experience and site visit is precise and relevant to each target.”


Shayon, Sheila “Accenture: Consumers Want Companies to Fight Harder to Keep Them” 12/6/12

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