Consumers Defect in Growing Numbers But Majority Say “You Could Have Kept Me,” Accenture Research Finds

  Consumers Defect in Growing Numbers But Majority Say “You Could Have Kept
  Me,” Accenture Research Finds

      Corporate websites, expert review sites top social media influence

Business Wire

NEW YORK -- December 05, 2012

In 2012, one in five consumers switched companies they buy from, including
wireless phone, internet service, and retailers, according to new research
released today by Accenture (NYSE: ACN). This marks a five percent increase in
switching over 2011 levels. However, the eighth annual Accenture Global
Consumer Survey also found that the majority (85 percent) of consumers say the
companies could have done something differently to prevent them from

The survey, which polled more than 12,000 consumers in 32 countries, found
that among those consumers who would have stayed if their provider had acted
differently, two-thirds (67 percent) pointed to having their customer service
issue resolved during their first contact as a factor. More than half (54
percent) might have remained loyal if they had been rewarded for doing more
business with their provider. The survey revealed that, of the ten industries
covered, the largest rises in switching were among wireless phone providers
(26 percent of consumers switched in 2012, up from 21 percent in 2011);
internet service providers (23 percent switched, up from 19 percent in 2011)
and retailers (22 percent switched, up from 16 percent in 2011).

Broken promises are a top area of frustration for consumers, according to the
survey:  nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents indicate it’s extremely
frustrating when a company delivers a different customer service experience
from what it promised upfront. Seventy eight percent of consumers say they are
likely to switch providers when they encounter such broken promises. Other
frustrations that make consumers more likely to switch include:

  *Having to contact customer service multiple times for the same reason
    (selected by 65 percent of consumers)
  *Dealing with unfriendly customer service agents (65 percent)
  *Being on hold for a long time when contacting customer service (61

“The sobering reality is that ‘tried and true’ strategies for customer
acquisition, loyalty and retention are struggling to keep pace with consumers
who are perpetually in motion, more technologically savvy than ever, and
increasingly unpredictable,” said Robert Wollan, global managing
director—Accenture Sales & Customer Services. “The news this year is that
customers want to be loyal but customer service often fails to meet their
expectations. In the digital marketplace, companies must improve social
listening capabilities and apply predictive analytics designed to quickly
identify and respond to potential customer issues before problems arise.”

Selling More With Tailored Experiences

The Accenture study found that a tailored experience is critical to a strong
customer relationship. Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents say that,
compared to 12 months ago, they have higher expectations of getting
specialized treatment for being a “good” customer. A similar proportion (50
percent) say it is extremely important for customer service people to know
their history so they don’t have to repeat themselves each time they call.

Nearly a third (31 percent) of respondents prefer companies that use
information about them to make their experience more efficient from one step
to the next. However, only a quarter (24 percent) said their providers deliver
tailored experiences.

Among the ten industries included in the survey, providers in the travel and
tourism, retail banking and life insurance industries earn the highest marks
for providing tailored experiences: 32 percent of respondents say travel and
tourism providers offer tailored experiences, followed by 27 percent who say
the same about retail banks and 25 percent about life insurance providers.

“To convince consumers to stay – and spend more – many companies will need to
develop more tailored offers and interactions that connect with consumers’
specific needs,” said Michelangelo Barbera, managing director – Accenture
Sales & Customer Services in Europe, Africa and Latin America. “Taking such
proactive steps to keep customers requires companies to use analytics to mine
the vast stores of data they possess to gain greater insight into customers’
desires and intentions and behave in the ways that customers want them to.
Failing to use that data equates to not listening and can result in customers
searching for someone who will.”

Corporate Websites, Expert Review Sites Top Social Media Influence

As technology provides an ever-growing number of channels for consumers to
interact with companies, the Accenture survey found that on average consumers
use five to six channels to learn about and select providers, including:

  *Word of mouth, relied upon by 79 percent of consumers to get information
    about providers
  *Corporate websites, used by nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of
  *Online sources such as expert review sites, news sites and product
    comparison sites, used by nearly two-thirds (63 percent)
  *Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, used by 47 percent of

Looking more closely at the influence of social media, the survey found that
31 percent of consumers say they trust comments posted by people they know,
echoing the importance of word of mouth. More than a quarter (28 percent) say
positive comments in social media affect purchasing decisions and 28 percent
say negative comments do so.

“Consumers, particularly in North America, appear to be migrating to
increasingly polarized camps: one group that prefers traditional interactions,
such as telephone, and one tech-savvy group that demands seamless interactions
across all digital platforms,” said Kevin Quiring, managing director –
Accenture Sales & Customer Services in North America.“Many companies,
however, 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.”

About the Survey

The Accenture Global Consumer Survey is an annual research project that
assesses consumer attitudes toward marketing, sales and customer service
practices. The 2012 survey includes online responses from more than 12,000
consumers in 32 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada,
Chile, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India,
Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway,
the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden,
Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Respondents were asked to assess their experiences with up to four companies
in 10 industries: travel & tourism, life insurance, consumer goods retailers,
consumer electronics manufacturers, retail banking, internet service
providers, cable/satellite, wireline phone, wireless phone and gas/electric

For more information:

  *Visit the Accenture Global Consumer Survey Interactive Journey
  *Download the Accenture Global Consumer Survey report, “Are Your Consumers
    on the Speedway or Stuck in the Slow Lane?”
  *Download the Accenture Global Consumer Survey Key Findings

About Accenture

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and
outsourcing company, with 257,000 people serving clients in more than 120
countries.Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities
across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the
world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help
them become high-performance businesses and governments.The company generated
net revenues of US$27.9billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2012. Its
home page is


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