Customer Service Pain Points Still Driving Consumers Away

January 27, 2015

Accenture-Customers-Main-Reasons-for-Switching-Providers-Jan2015Some 53% of US customers surveyed last year reported having switched providers during the prior year due to poor service, according to a recently-released Accenture Strategy study. That 53% figure is up from 51% in 2013 and 46% in 2012, though the most recent study tracked switching behavior in an additional industry (health care providers), which may have had an impact on the results.

Of the 11 industries tracked, customers in the retail sector were the most prone to switching (most likely due to the ease of doing so), with 30% reporting having switched providers due to poor service. Next on the list, 11% of cable/satellite TV service customers reported having switched providers, likely related to providers’ chronically low customer satisfaction ratings.

The overall poor quality of the customer experience was providers’ biggest culprit, cited by 72% of those who switched in at least one industry as a main reason for doing so. Lost trust in the company (44%) and customer service representatives’ lack of knowledge (36%) were also significant pain points for switchers.

Significantly, some 73% of those who switched said they would not consider switching back to their original provider or doing business with them again. Among those who would consider switching back, pricing or other deals (56%) would be the most likely to draw them back, with many also saying they would consider a move back if the original provider introduced a superior product or offering (47%) or the new provider failed to deliver on their expectations (42%). Even so, 51% of those who would consider returning to their original provider said at least one year would have to pass before they would give the company another chance.

Meanwhile, 8 in 10 respondents who switched said that their previous service provider could have done something that would have kept them as a customer. Roughly three-quarters of that subset of switchers said that the provider resolving their issue in the first contact would have impacted their decision. A majority also said that being recognized and rewarded for doing more business with the provider would have had an impact.

Respondents overall (not just switchers) reported the following negative customer service experiences to be their most frustrating:

  • Contacting customer service multiple times for the same reason (86%);
  • Being put on hold for a long time (85%);
  • Customer service agents who cannot answer the questions (84%);
  • Repeating the same information to multiple customer service agents (83%);
  • The company delivering something different than what they promised up front (83%); and
  • Unfriendly or impolite customer service agents (82%).

Respondents were unlikely to keep bad experiences to themselves: 70% said they had told people about a bad customer service or support experience they had had during the prior year. And beyond the 46% who said they quit doing business with a company immediately following a bad experience, another 44% said they shifted a portion of their spend to another provider, suggesting that outright switching isn’t the only negative outcome from poor experiences.

About the Data: The data is based on an online survey of 23,666 end-consumers in 33 countries fielded from July 2nd to August 8th, 2014. Respondents were asked to evaluate 11 industry sectors (up to 4 per respondent); all respondents were decision-makers in at least one industry.

The US sample size was 2,021.

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