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4 ways to retain customers fed up with bad customer service
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4 ways to retain customers fed up with bad customer service 

A recent survey of Canadian consumers released by management consulting firm Accenture PLC reports that a large number of customer are unhappy with the service they are getting from retailers, cable and satellite television service providers, phones companies and banks. And they are making their feelings known by taking their business elsewhere.

Nearly half, or 49 per cent of Canadian consumers have switched providers in the past year after having a bad experience from businesses, according to Accenture’s Global Consumer Pulse Research. The study measures “the experiences and attitudes” of 24,489 consumers around the world about marketing, sales and customer services, with 1,334 respondents from Canada.

Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Research Canadian Infographic

(Click on the image to view full infograohic)

While only 17 per cent of Canadian consumers posted negative comments online about their bad customer service experiences (that’s 11 per cent less than the global average of 28 per cent), the development certainly musty have some businesses execs scratching their heads as to their customers have suddenly disappeared.

“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 for advanced customer strategy, at Accenture Strategy.

However, Warburton pointed out that Canadian companies need to invest in analytical tools and expertise to obtain predictive insights that will help them craft a “more personalized experience for customers” who are quietly slipping away.

Eighty per cent of Canadian respondents who switched said they could have been retained before switching providers. Now that they’ve switched, “there’s very little chance they will return,” according to Accenture’s findings.

As much as, 68 per cent of Canadians said they will not return once they have left (compared to 58 per cent globally).

Human connection

While technologies such as data analytics help organizations parse the meaning of information they gather from a wide variety of contact points and sensors, and automation and mobile technologies streamline and speed-up many processes, they are still just part of the tools needed to retain customers.

The survey results show that Canadian consumers still crave human contact in their transactions.

The survey found:

  • 85 per cent of Canadian customers prefer dealing with a live person (higher than the global average of 73 per cent)
  • More than 53 per cent of Canadian respondents are willing to be sold new or upgraded products when receiving face-to-face rather than online service (that’s more than the global average of 45 per cent)
  • 71 per cent of Canadian consumers said in-store service is the best channel for getting a tailored experience (the global average was only 56 per cent)
  • 40 per cent of Canadians are willing to pay a higher price for goods and services if they are assured of a better level of service (that’s slightly below the 49 per cent average of global respondents)

“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,” Warburton stressed.

Here are four key things businesses can do to provide better customer service and hopefully win back their customers:

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 per cent 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.

“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,” Warburton said.

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