Despite having more data and insight into consumer concerns and preferences, many business sectors in the United States, retail among them, have encountered a significant degree of customers switching between providers, according to the new Global Consumer Pulse Research Study released by Accenture.
According to the survey, consumer satisfaction in the retailer category fell slightly in 2013 versus 2012, as did its likelihood of customer recommendation. The loyalty rating in the retail category remained basically flat. While retail tends to travel in the middle of the pack as regards performance among the business sectors, it does lead in the category in Buy More Products/Services. Even in that segment, however, retail’s ratings declined versus 2012. Retail was one of 10 sectors studied in the research, which also included such categories as Property and Casualty Insurance, Wireless Phone Service Companies and Consumer Electronics Manufacturers.
Across sectors, consumers are increasingly frustrated with the service they experience, the study concluded, with 91% of respondents annoyed that they have to contact a company multiple times for the same reason; 90% about being put on hold for long time periods; and 89% by having to repeat their issue to multiple representatives. As for marketing and sales practices, 85% of consumers expressed frustration with companies that make it hard to do business with them, 84% with those that promise one thing but deliver another and 58% with inconsistent experiences from channel to channel.
The research demonstrated that 51% of U.S. consumers switched a provider in one of the 10 study sectors in the past year due to poor customer service experiences, up 5% from 2012, Accenture noted. Switching rates were highest among retailers, cable and satellite providers and retail banks. The consulting firm pointed out that players in those sectors are the most vulnerable to switching but have the most to gain if they can provide customer service sufficiently superior to encourage consumers movement to them and away from their competitors. Accenture stated that its analysis of consumer spending forecasts and switching rates revealed by the survey indicated that $1.3 trillion of revenue is being transferred between companies in the U.S., forming a sizeable switching economy.
“Changing customer behaviors in the digital marketplace and low levels of customer satisfaction are fueling a switching economy that presents opportunities as well as threats,” said Robert Wollan, global managing director, Accenture Sales & Customer Services. “Growth is harder to come by in many sectors but the switching economy presents a source of new, sustainable, profitable growth for companies that are playing to win and gain market share. To win requires an aggressive approach that goes beyond implementing technology to creating genuinely engaging customer experiences that today’s nonstop customers are seeking but obviously not finding with their current providers.”