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Accenture: Consumers switch brands more than ever before


New York - U.S. companies are struggling to keep pace with their customers’ “always on” nature and greater use of digital channels. According to new research from Accenture, 56% of consumers report that the number of brands they consider has increased significantly in the past 10 years, and 46% believe they are more likely to switch providers compared to 10 years ago.

More than three-quarters (78%) of consumers surveyed use at least one online channel when looking for a new service provider, and nearly one-quarter (24%) want more digital interactions from providers. Only 11% of consumers strongly agree companies are effectively converging digital, mobile, social and traditional channels. As a result, the “Switching Economy,” what Accenture calls the potential revenue up for grabs in the U.S. market due to changes in consumer spending patterns and switching rates, has swelled to $1.6 trillion, a 29% increase since 2010.

Just more than one-quarter of U.S. consumers (28%) feel very loyal toward their providers and only about one-in-three (31%) are willing to recommend them to others. Slightly more than one-third (34%) are open to purchasing products and services offered by non-traditional providers and about the same amount (30%) will consider making purchases through consumer-to-consumer channels for housing/accommodations, transportation or money lending.

Failure to quickly resolve an issue continues to drive the switching trend, with little improvement reported during the past six years. The three top U.S. consumer frustrations for customer service – solving an issue during the first interaction (86% in 2014 vs. 84% in 2009); lengthy hold times (85% vs. 84%); and interacting with service representatives who cannot answer questions (84% vs. 84%) – have remained flat.

The Accenture research also highlighted that one-third of U.S. respondents plan to spend less in at least one industry, as compared with just over one-quarter (26%) who said the same in 2009.

Despite high switching rates, the survey reveals a potential “switch back” opportunity for companies. Just more than one-quarter (27%) say they would consider returning to a previous provider. Top drivers of this trend include attractive pricing (56%) and a superior product or offering (47%).

In addition, Accenture data shows that satisfaction with online customer service channels, including online text/video chat, mobile applications, third-party review of websites or forums and social media, is relatively solid compared with “traditional” channels with just over half of respondents reporting that they are satisfied with online text or video chat (57% and 55%, respectively), as compared to just 51% that were satisfied with traditional contact center support.

However, despite the relatively high levels of satisfaction with digital channels, adoption of these technologies by consumers as part of the overall channel mix has remained low due to several barriers. These barriers include the lack of the right information provided by the channels, lack of trust in them, and lack of knowledge of how to access and use them.

Further, while most companies are aware of the value that digital brings, many have been slow to develop an overall strategy that incorporates these channels into their existing customer service offering.

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