Accenture Strategy recently released a study revealing that 53% of customers in the US changed providers in 2014 because of poor customer service. This reveals a rising trend, especially now that the study is tracking the healthcare industry, of people leaving their providers for better service elsewhere. Only 46% of respondents reported switching for service issues in 2012 and 51% in 2013.

Customers of companies in the retail industry were the likeliest to switch providers for service-related issues at a rate of 30%, while the second industry on the list, cable and satellite service providers, had customers only reporting leaving for service issues in 11% of cases. It should be noted that the retail sector makes it easy for customers to switch, while cable and satellite TV providers are plagued with low customer satisfaction scores.

Customers switching to new providers in at least one industry reported their top reasons for leaving as:

  • Company provided poor quality experience– 72%
  • Company lost their trust – 44%
  • Customer service representatives weren’t knowledgeable – 36%

It bears mention that 73% of respondents reported that they would not consider switching back to the company at any point in the future. Of the 27% who might consider returning:

  • 56% would require lower pricing or special deals
  • 47% would require a superior new product or special service offerings
  • 42% would only return if their new provider failed to meet expectations

Over half of these individuals willing to possibly return also reported they would only do so after remaining with another provider(s) for at least one year.

Of those customers who switched to a new provider, a full 80% reported that the company could’ve made things right and kept them as customers. While being rewarded or in some way recognized for their loyalty to the company could’ve helped, 75% of these individuals claimed that their first point of contact could’ve acted differently to change their opinion of the company and situation, yet did not.

All of the respondents, including those who did not switch, reported their most frustrating experiences with customer service as:

  • Customer service issues not be resolved after first contact – 86%
  • Excessive hold times – 85%
  • Customer service representatives being unable to answer questions – 84%
  • Having to repeat information to multiple customer service representatives – 83%
  • Company promising one thing and delivering another – 83%
  • Rude customer service representatives – 82%

Other consequences reported in the survey include:

  • Respondents sharing their negative experiences with others – 70%
  • Respondents switching after just one negative experience – 46%
  • Respondents reallocating a portion of their spending to other providers after first negative experience – 44%

Note: This online survey was conducted across 11 industries for respondents in 33 countries. The total number of respondents was 23,666, of which 2,201 were located within the US. Respondents were decision-makers in at least one industry and were allowed to provide feedback in up to four industries. Survey responses for 2014 were collected between July 2 and August 8.


MarketingCharts. Customer Service Pain Points Still Driving Consumers Away. January 27, 2015.