Perception gap revealed by Accenture

That sober note you hear sounding emanates from Accenture, that international management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. A recent study outsourced by the firm and undertaken by BPRI Group implied that, overall, tech firms are alienating customers with customer service that is average at best. Firms supplying such average or below-average service risk losing up to 73 percent to competitors.

The research was based on a survey of 1,200 technology consumers in North America, Europe and Asia, and interviews with executives at vice-president level and above at 35 global consumer technology companies, each with at least $1 billion in annual revenue between August and November 2006.

The survey of customers of consumer technology companies was fielded between January and March 2007 by the Lightspeed Consumer Panel and included consumers in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Japan.

Other statistics revealed an interesting perception gap between those on opposite sides of the buy-sell equation:

? 81 percent of customers surveyed who rated their service satisfaction as “below average” said they will purchase from a different supplier the next time.

? Although 75 percent of executives said their companies’ provide “above average” customer care, 58 percent of consumers rated their satisfaction with customer service as average or below average.

? When consumers rate their service satisfaction as merely “average,” the likelihood of their buying again from that same company falls by almost half from 51 percent to 27 percent.

? 48 percent of consumers surveyed said they share their negative customer-service experiences with friends and family.

? 42 percent of customers surveyed said they had to access customer-service channels multiple times to resolve their problems.

? 61 percent of consumers surveyed said they believe that technology has not improved customer service.

? And as for that 78 percent mentioned above, here it is: That 78 percent surveyed said the service they receive is “at or below” the level competitors offer.

Upon releasing the results, Brett Anderson, managing director for Customer Relationship Management in Accenture’s Communications and High Tech Practice, declared the numbers to be “a wake-up call that customer service should no longer be relegated to a mere instrument for extracting costs out of the business. Instead, this service should be a powerful and crucial investment target for accelerating full-throttle toward delivering high performance.”

For more information on Accenture’s “Customer Service” report, click here.

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