For the first time in six years, the number of consumers who switched service providers as a result of poor customer service declined in 2010, according to the latest edition of an annual consumer behavior study released by Accenture (NYSE: ACN). This occurred even as consumers continue to expect more from customer service and their satisfaction with customer service has been decreasing. In fact, the study shows that consumer satisfaction is down across the board – in each of the 11 service characteristics survey respondents were asked to rate. Their satisfaction declined in areas ranging from having customer service available at convenient times to being able to access service through multiple channels.
The most recent Accenture Global Consumer Survey found that 64 percent of consumers switched from at least one service provider — a bank, utility or wireless carrier, for example — due to poor customer service in 2010. This reverses a trend identified in previous surveys in which the number of consumers making a switch had steadily risen from a low of 49 percent in 2005 to a high of 69 percent in 2009. In the latest survey, retailers (26 percent) and banks (22 percent) demonstrated the highest rates of consumer defection, followed by Internet service providers (19 percent), wireless carriers (17 percent) and landline providers (16 percent).
The survey, which assessed consumer attitudes toward customer service and marketing and sales practices in 10 industries among more than 5,800 people in 17 countries, also found that more than two-thirds (67 percent) of global consumers are not willing to compromise on levels of product quality in exchange for lower prices and more than half (54 percent) are not willing to compromise on levels of customer service. And, according to the survey, the percentage of consumers who identified price as the reason for selecting a new provider declined from 75 percent in 2009 to 57 percent in 2010.
“As the global economy recovers, we’ve identified some telling shifts in consumer attitudes,” said Robert Wollan, global managing director, Accenture Customer Relationship Management. “The unexpected reversal in switching rates indicates that despite the decline in satisfaction with service, other factors, including loyalty programs and the use of technology, are influencing consumers’ decision to stay with or leave their providers.”
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