Better be sitting down for this one, we know you'll be as shocked as we were here at the walled First Coffee compound in Waco, Texas: A recently-released study by Accenture find that -- brace yourself -- companies "are not keeping pace with consumers' rising expectations for service, especially in emerging economies." Smelling salts all around.
The report, "Customer Satisfaction in the Multi-Polar World: Accenture 2007 Global Customer Service Satisfaction Survey Report," the third in a series of annual studies designed to examine consumer attitudes toward customer service, expanded the scope of past reports to include not just the United States and the United Kingdom, but Australia, Brazil, Canada, China and France as well.
Which immediately raises the question, "Is customer satisfaction really falling, or does including France for the first time just give a truer indication of how bad it's always been?"
More than 41 percent of all respondents reported that the overall quality of service they receive is "poor/terrible" to "fair." The most severe evaluation of quality was rendered by French consumers, with 60 percent of them saying that the service they receive tends to be "poor/terrible" to "fair." Although satisfaction with service was highest in the United States, only 7 percent of U.S. respondents rated it "excellent," and 28 percent said it was "poor/terrible" to "fair."
More than one-half -- 52 percent -- of the more than 3,500 consumer respondents surveyed this year across five continents reported that their expectations for better service have increased over the past five years. This is encouraging. First Coffee lives in Istanbul and has figured out that one reason why things don't improve here is simply that the locals have built up extraordinary tolerances for shoddy workmanship and second-rate quality. If Turks demanded better they'd get better, but they don't, they shrug instead.
Additionally, one-third (33 percent) said they have higher service expectations today than they did just last year. Again, one wonders if comparisons between this year's report and findings for the past two years are as indicative as Roger Clemens' pre- and post-buttocks injection stats.
Expectations increased the most among consumers in emerging economies. In Brazil, 48 percent of respondents said that their expectations had increased since last year, and "more than nine out of 10 consumers in China, 93 percent, said their expectations for better service had increased over the past five years, and 75 percent said their expectations are higher than they were a year ago," Accenture officials said.
In a nicely dry statement, the report found that "increases in customer service expectations continue to outpace efforts made by companies to improve service." Globally, nearly one-half -- 47 percent -- of survey respondents said their expectations were met only "sometimes," "rarely" or "never." The highest level of dissatisfaction was found among Brazilian consumers, with two-thirds of those respondents reporting that their expectations are met only "sometimes," "rarely" or "never."
Even in developed economies, where companies have spent billions on customer service capabilities, dissatisfaction with service remains high. 52 percent of U.K. consumers said the frequency with which their customer service expectations are met is "sometimes," "rarely" or "never."
"The gap between service expectations and the services consumers receive translates into lost business," Accenture officials conclude, citing findings that 59 percent of consumers in developed and emerging economies reported that they quit doing business with a company due to poor service. And evidently the figures were significantly higher for consumers in the emerging economies of China and Brazil -- 85 percent and 75 percent, respectively. In Britain the number of consumers who switched service providers due to poor service went up to 58 percent from 50 percent in 2005.
Woody Driggs, managing director of Accenture's Customer Relationship Management practice globally, said consumers in developed and emerging economies alike "have shown their willingness to stop shopping at companies that can't meet their service expectations."
The study found that customer churn resulting from poor service remained prevalent across industries. Retailers, banks and Internet service providers were the industries most frequently identified by consumers as those where poor service had led them to take business elsewhere -- selected by 21 percent, 21 percent and 20 percent of all respondents, respectively.
So what to do? The Accenture report recommends that organizations "incorporate the customer's perspective, values and actions into their business and operations strategy, and into their capability development and execution." For instance, officials say, "43 percent of consumers surveyed identified the ability to resolve an issue with a single call rather than speaking with multiple service representatives as one of the most important aspects of a satisfying customer service experience. By contrast, only 22 percent identified the speed of the response."
Interestingly, there's quite a sharp divide between countries as to what constitutes poor service. Consumers in the United Kingdom were more likely than those in China to report being frustrated when left on hold too long, while speaking with customer service representatives -- 81 percent versus 59 percent, according to the survey.
And the ability to interact with just a single customer service representative is more important for respondents in France, Brazil and Canada, selected by 39 percent, 34 percent and 32 percent of respondents in those countries, respectively, than it is for Chinese consumers, 12 percent of whom thought it was all that big a deal.
And Brazilian consumers were the most inclined to identify lack of personalized solutions from companies as a service frustration -- cited by 63 percent of respondents in Brazil -- while it was considerably less important to U.S. and U.K. consumers, cited by only 37 percent of respondents in each of those countries.
SugarCRM, a vendor of commercial open source customer relationship management (CRM) software, has announced that it will host SugarCon 2008, its global customer and developer conference, February 6-8, 2008, at the Dolce Hayes Mansion in San Jose.
The event offers "over 40 sessions tailored to SugarCRM customers, partners, administrators and developers," company officials say. The program will include keynotes from industry leaders and "visionaries" as well as discussions on the SugarCRM product and technical roadmap.
Highlights include keynotes on the future of Web 2.0 technologies from industry executives, Sugar product announcements and roadmap strategies, community presentations on Sugar mash-ups, dashlets and custom modules and what company officials promise as "a California cuisine and entertainment each night."
Oracle has announced that analyst firm Datamonitor has recognized Oracle as a "leader" in customer relationship management (CRM) applications for the life sciences industry.
According to Datamonitor's "Decision Matrix: Selecting a CRM Vendor in the Pharmaceutical Industry (Competitor Focus)," Oracle combines "robust CRM technology" with "extensive market impact" in the pharmaceutical sector.
According to the report, Oracle is recognized in the categories of market impact, technology assessment and end-user sentiment, pretty much putting it on any respectable shortlist of CRM vendors in the pharmaceutical industry.
In addition, the report -- which also evaluated Cegedim Dendrite, Salesforce.com, StayinFront and Verticals onDemand -- rates Oracle's Siebel CRM as "the most recognized product among surveyed respondents," as well as "the product that received the highest scores across six out of eight end-user categories, including product quality, portfolio depth and financial stability."
"Because Siebel CRM 8 balances industry expertise with a robust enterprise-class technology that is customizable to every type of end user in pharmaceutical sales and marketing, life science companies should shortlist Oracle when considering a CRM product," wrote Markella Kordoyanni, Datamonitor analyst for Pharmaceutical Technology, and Nicole Engelbert, Datamonitor lead analyst for Vertical Markets Technology, in the report.
The Decision Matrix report is intended to provide guidance and recommendations for companies planning to implement a CRM product, as it positions vendors in one of three categories -- shortlist, consider and explore. Datamonitor surveyed nearly 300 end users in the pharmaceutical industry, conducted briefings with the vendors profiled and used secondary research sources to provide information.