51% of Americans Switched Providers in the Past Year Due to Poor Customer Service

October 23, 2013

Accenture-Switching-Service-Providers-Oct2013The US “switching economy” represents about $1.3 trillion in revenues that are up for grabs across 10 industry sectors, according to a new Accenture study that analyzes switching rates and consumer spending forecasts. In fact, 51% of US consumers claimed to have switched service providers at some point during the past year as a result of poor customer service experiences, up from 46% in the 2012 survey. Remarkably, that’s one of the better regional results in the survey, which finds that globally, 66% of consumers reported having switched providers during the past year, up from 62% the year before.

Consumers in emerging markets were the most avid switchers, with 81% reporting having done so in the past year. By comparison, 54% in mature markets (including those 51% in the US) have switched providers due to poor experiences, up from 49% the year before.

The most affected industries in the US were consumer goods retailers (27% having switched), cable and satellite providers (11%) and retail banks (10%).

While many US customers have switched providers, 81% of them said the company could have done something differently to have prevented them from making the switch. The types of customer service frustrations commonly cited by US respondents to the survey included:

  • having to contact a company multiple times for the same reason (91%);
  • being put on hold for a long time (90%);
  • having to repeat their issue to multiple representatives (89%);
  • dealing with employees of self-help sites/systems that cannot answer their questions (89%); and
  • having a company delivery something different than they promise up front (88%).

Top frustrations, among US respondents, with marketing and sales practices include dealing with a company that does not make it easy to do business with them (85%), having companies promise one thing but deliver another (84%), and realizing that the company cannot be trusted on how to use personal information provided to them (84%).

Overall, levels of satisfaction with providers, feelings of loyalty towards providers, and likelihood to recommend providers to others have remained essentially unchanged from a year ago.

About the Data: The Accenture Global Consumer Survey is an annual research project that assesses customer attitudes toward marketing, sales and customer service practices and customers’ behaviors in response to companies’ practices. The 2013 survey includes online responses from more than 12,000 customers 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: hotels & lodging, property & casualty insurance providers, consumer goods retailers, consumer electronics manufacturers, retail banking, internet service providers, cable & satellite service providers, landline phone companies, wireless phone companies and gas & electric utilities.

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