Accenture notes in their recent study that a significant majority (73%) of customers who receive "average" customer service are at risk to take their business elsewhere, and that the efforts to provide self-help and automated service systems aren't successful with a majority of consumers.

"Too many of these companies fail to realize the dire long-term repercussions of not making the proper investments in customer service, including missing out on millions of dollars in business opportunities," said Brett Anderson, managing director for Customer Relationship Management in Accenture’s Communications & High Tech Practice.  "This is 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."

As noted, Accenture surveyed 1,200 technology consumers around the world and interviewed senior execs at major consumer technology companies.

And woe is the company with customers that have a "below average" customer experience: Accenture found that 81% of these customers said they "will purchase from a different supplier the next time."

"With so many technology products on a natural path to commoditization, technology companies need to use customer service to differentiate themselves from competitors," Anderson said.

The report also outlined something we see happening in the industry, that the voice of a single customer can have a ripple effect throughout a company's customer base, thanks to the power of the Internet, blogs and word of mouth.

According to the Accenture reports, there were several take-aways that companies should note when they think about their strategies to address poor customer service, including...

  • More than four in 10 customers surveyed (42 percent) said they had to access customer-service channels multiple times to resolve their problems.
  • More than six in 10 customers surveyed (61 percent) said they believe that technology has not improved customer service.
  • The vast majority of consumers—78 percent—said the service they receive is “at or below” the level competitors offer.
  • Companies are wasting millions of dollars on customer-service initiatives that customers don’t view as important, particularly self-service capabilities.  

From your questions: "where can I find the Accenture study you wrote about?

To access the research findings, go to www.accenture.com/customersupport.