Canadian companies need to invest in analytical tools and expertise to generate the proactive and predictive insights for a more personalized experience for customers, who are quietly slipping away with little ability to win them back, according to a new report from Accenture Strategy.
Nearly half (49 percent) of Canadian consumers have switched providers in the past year due to poor customer service – most commonly from retailers, cable and satellite television service companies, phone companies and banks, according to Accenture’s eleventh annual Global Consumer Pulse Research. The study gauges the experiences and attitudes of 24,489 consumers around the world about marketing, sales and customer services, with 1,334 respondents from Canada.
Eighty percent of Canadian respondents who switched said they could have been retained before switching providers, in line with the survey’s global findings. Now that they’ve switched, there’s very little chance they will return, with 68 percent saying they will not return once they have left, compared to 58 percent globally, the survey shows. Further, only 17 percent of Canadian consumers posted negative comments online after a bad customer service experience, 11 percent less than the global average (28 percent).
“Canadians are known to be ‘silent switchers’, which means they will just leave with no opportunity for the provider to ‘make it right’, or to understand and minimize churn,” said Berkeley Warburton, Managing Director, Advanced Customer Strategy, Accenture Strategy. “Fortunately, providers now have access to tools that proactively create a positive customer experience through seamless interactions across all channels, using predictive, prescriptive and cross-channel analytics that will figure out what Canadian customers want – before it’s too late.”
The importance of a human connection in customer services
Analytics is only part of the solution for providers trying to retain business, because Canadian customers said they still want to maintain a human interaction, with 85 percent preferring to deal with a live person, higher than the average of 73 percent globally. This additional cost can pay off for providers, with more than half (53 percent) of Canadian respondents willing to be sold new or upgraded products when receiving a face-to-face service compared to online, compared to 45 percent globally.
Canadian consumers place a higher-than-average value on physical or in-store experiences, with 71 percent agreeing that in-store service is the best channel for getting a tailored experience, compared to 56 percent globally. Forty percent are willing to pay a higher price for goods and services if it ensures a better level of service, compared to 49 percent of global respondents.
“Canadian companies must not overplay their digital hand — they should look to balance digital with human interaction so they don’t lose their customer base,” said Ms. Warburton. “These personalized interactions are what the customer values and remembers, and they make a difference when it comes to building and maintaining a Canadian customer’s loyalty and trust.”
Improving customer experience
The Accenture Strategy report reveals that there is huge room for improvement in the delivery of today’s customer services. Most (80 percent) Canadian consumers say that it is frustrating dealing with a company that does not make it easy to do business with them, compared to 73 percent of global respondents. Another 77 percent expect customer service to be easier and more convenient to obtain, versus 69 percent globally, and 65 percent expect it to be faster, versus 72 percent globally. Meanwhile, 60 percent report that if companies could provide customers with better live or in-person customer service, it would have impacted their decision to switch providers, higher that the global average of 52 percent.
How leaders of customer services succeed
Organizations that want to rebalance their digital and traditional customer service channels should look to:
- Put the human and physical elements back into customer services: Rethink your investment strategy. The focus should be on delivering satisfying, memorable customer experiences – not methods of interaction. Ensure your channel management approach delivers integrated experiences.
- 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.
- Root out revenue toxicity: Define and address the most toxic customer experiences across all channels; experiences like data overage charges from telecommunication providers where customers receive no advanced warning. These experiences increase revenue in the short-term but greatly contribute to Canadians “silently switching”, impacting long-term profitability. By focusing on transparent and positive experiences companies can create more sustainable growth through customer loyalty.
- 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.
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.
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 atwww.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.