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Consumers always looking to dump brands

Customers are buying less from current providers, always keeping one eye open for something new. Out of the downturn, consumer spending across most major industries and key markets has been growing in the past six years. Yet during that time, the proportion of consumers in our study who expressed their intention to buy less from their current providers has increased, indicating that most companies have failed to tap into this spending growth.

Trend: Companies are still inviting customers to leave by failing to improve first-contact resolution

Of the consumers who switched to another provider due to poor service, more than 80% said they could have been retained, mainly if their issue had been resolved on their first contact with the company. Yet first-contact resolution has consistently remained the top frustration factor for consumers in the past five years (generally cited by around eight in 10), and the percentage of consumers expressing satisfaction with how companies have handled it has increased only marginally since 2009 (from 41 percent to 45 percent).

Trend: Companies aren’t capitalizing fully on their own website and other channels they control to make it easier for customers to prospect

Consumers continue to rely on multiple channels when prospecting, with the corporate website and physical outlets remaining the preferred primary source of information. Yet the impact of the corporate website and in-store information on consumers’ purchase decisions has been consistently weak or declining in the past five years — despite the fact that these are channels companies can directly control — while the “voice of others” channels have become more impactful. Worse, only 14 percent of consumers overall strongly agree that companies are effectively providing a positive customer experience through convergence between new digital, mobile and social channel interactions and more traditional ones.

Trend: Customers still encounter significant barriers that prevent them from more widely adopting the digital service channels they want

Satisfaction with online customer service channels is relatively solid compared with traditional channels. A little over half of consumers said they were satisfied with online text chat, online video chat, and other online forums or social media channels, and exactly half said they were satisfied with the mobile channel. But consumers’ adoption of digital channels as part of the overall channel mix is low due to several barriers companies have not addressed completely — including 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.

Trend: Customers’ service expectations are rising faster than companies are willing to adapt

While consumers’ expectations for customer service have increased greatly since 2007, growth is slowing, which gives companies a chance to catch up. Unfortunately, the percentage of consumers switching due to poor service has decreased only slightly during that time, indicating that most companies are still not giving consumers the kind of service they want. Indeed, the percentage of consumers saying their biggest frustrations with providers — failure to deliver on their promises, inefficient and slow customer service, and lack of interaction convenience — have remained consistent in the past few years.

Trend:Lack of compelling offers prevents companies from winning back customers

About one-third of consumers who switched from a provider said they would consider returning within two years for better pricing or a superior product. That’s the good news, and a real mindset shift for single-speed companies that miss this opportunity. But today, only about one in four consumers said they are satisfied with the pricing or product quality offered by the companies they do business with.

Originally published at www.newmediaandmarketing.com on December 27, 2015.

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