U.S. Companies Losing Customers As Consumers Demand More Human Interaction, Accenture Strategy Study Finds

Too much reliance on digital technologies has given rise to ‘human-less’
customer services

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–83 percent of U.S. consumers prefer dealing with human beings over
digital channels to solve customer services issues, according to new
research from Accenture (NYSE:ACN). The report also found that 52
percent of consumers have switched provider in the past year due to poor
customer service, with banks, retailers, and cable and satellite
television providers being the worst offenders. In the U.S., the
estimated cost of customers switching due to poor service is $1.6
trillion.

The Accenture
Strategy
report, Digital
Disconnect in Customer Engagement’
, is based on the company’s
eleventh annual Global
Consumer Pulse Research
, which gauges the experiences and attitudes
of 24,489 consumers around the world about marketing, sales and customer
services. 2,003 U.S. consumers were included in the sample.

“Companies have lost sight of the importance of human interaction and
often make it too difficult for consumers to get the right level of help
and service that they need,” said Robert
Wollan
, senior managing director, Advanced Customer Strategy, Accenture
Strategy
. “Companies wrongly assume that their digital-only
customers are their most profitable, and that customer service is a
cost. Consequently they over-invest in digital technologies and channels
and lose their most profitable customers – multi-channel customers – who
want experiences that cover both digital and traditional channels.”

The importance of human connection in customer services

Human interaction remains a vital component of customer satisfaction,
even in the ‘digital age’. 83 percent of U.S. consumers prefer dealing
with human beings over digital channels to solve customer services
issues and get advice (77 percent). Almost half (45 percent) of
consumers say they are even willing to pay a higher price for goods and
services if it ensures a better level of service.

Physical or in-store experiences are also highly valued amongst
consumers. 65 percent agree that in-store service is the best channel
for getting a tailored experience, and 46 percent say they are more
willing to be sold new or upgraded products when receiving a
face-to-face service compared to online.

“U.S. companies have reached a tipping point in their customer’s digital
intensity and need to rebalance their digital and traditional customer
services investments if they want to improve loyalty, differentiate
themselves and drive growth,” said Kevin
Quiring
, Managing Director, Advanced Customer Strategy, North
America Lead, Accenture
Strategy
. “Companies abandon the human connection at their own risk
and are facing the need to rebuild it to deliver the varied and tailored
outcomes that customers demand.”

Improving customer experience

The Accenture
Strategy report
reveals that there is huge room for improvement in
the delivery of today’s customer services. 81 percent of consumers admit
that it is frustrating dealing with a company that does not make it easy
to do business with them. Another 73 percent expect customer service to
be easier and more convenient, and 61 percent want it to be faster.
Complaining on social media about poor customer experience is the norm
for 44 percent of consumers who admit taking to social channels in order
to vent.

Once a provider loses a customer, 68 percent of consumers will not go
back. But there are measures companies can take to hold on to them. 80
percent of ‘switchers’ feel the company could have done something to
retain them. 83 percent report that if companies could provide customers
with better live or in-person customer service, it would have impacted
their decision to switch provider.

How leaders of customer services succeed

Organizations that want to rebalance their digital and traditional
customer service channels should look to:

1. Put the human and physical elements back into customer
services: Rethink your investment strategy. The focus should be on
delivering satisfying customer experiences – not methods of interaction.
Ensure your channel management approach delivers integrated experiences.

2. Make it easy for customers to switch channels to get the
experiences they want: Build customer service channels that enable
consumers to fluidly move from digital to human interaction to get the
outcomes they desire.

3. Root out toxicity: Define and address the most toxic
customer experiences across all channels. These experiences can directly
impact profitability. Identify the experiences that have the greatest
potential downside and leverage those insights to guide an investment
strategy.

4. Guarantee personal data security: 92 percent of consumers
say it is extremely important that companies protect the privacy of
their personal information. By not selling or sharing customer data with
other companies, and guaranteeing that safeguards are in place to
protect it, consumers will be more willing to hand over personal
information which can be leveraged to deliver better experiences.

Please visit www.accenture.com/GlobalConsumerPulseResearch
to read the full report. Join the conversation at @AccentureStrat
#GCPR.

About the research

Accenture Strategy’s Global Consumer Pulse Research is an annual online
research project that assess customer attitudes towards marketing, sales
and customer service practices and customers’ behaviors in response to
companies’ practices. The 2015 survey includes online responses from
24,489 consumers in 33 countries: Denmark, Finland, Sweden, UAE,
Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, Norway, Mexico, Malaysia, Ireland,
South Africa, Russia, Argentina, Turkey, Poland, Philippines,
Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic, India, Indonesia, France, Germany,
Japan, China, Brazil, Spain, Canada, Australia, Italy, United Kingdom
and the United States. Respondents were asked to evaluate their
experiences of up to four industries out of 11 industry sectors: retail
banking and financial services, wireless services providers, consumer
goods retailers, gas and electric utility providers, consumer
electronics manufacturers, property and casualty insurance providers,
fixed service providers (excluding cable and satellite), healthcare
providers, hotels and lodging, life insurance, and cable and satellite
service providers. The survey was fielded in August and September 2015.

About Accenture

Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a
broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital,
technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and
specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business
functions – underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network –
Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help
clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their
stakeholders. With approximately 373,000 people serving clients in more
than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the
world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.

Accenture
Strategy
operates at the intersection of business and technology. We
bring together our capabilities in business, technology, operations and
function strategy to help our clients envision and execute
industry-specific strategies that support enterprise wide
transformation. Our focus on issues related to digital disruption,
competitiveness, global operating models, talent and leadership help
drive both efficiencies and growth. For more information, follow @AccentureStrat
or visit www.accenture.com/strategy.

Contacts

Accenture
Lucy Davies, +44 777 3044 808
Lucy.d.davies@accenture.com