Human contact at the centre of customer satisfaction
16 June 2016
Despite the digitalisation of the corporate world, human contact remains primordial in the eyes of consumers. That was, in essence, the conclusion of the 11th edition of the annual study of the “Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Survey” conducted with 24,489 customers from 33 countries and covering 11 industries.
In the digital era, when seeking advice, 79% of French consumers prefer an exchange with another human being, rather than going through a digital channel. Customers severely condemn the dehumanisation of their relationship with businesses and brands that develop a digital marketing strategy. Accenture Strategy explains that attrition costs caused by a customer service fault can be estimated at 254 billion euros in France. Maintaining consumer commitment therefore takes on a central challenge in companies’ marketing strategies.
Finding the balance between digital and traditional channels
Even if digital is fundamental in the customer experience, it is nonetheless an undisputable fact that companies need to maintain human interaction with consumers. “Companies must rebalance investments between digital and traditional channels, to be able to offer their customers a coherent, personalised and human experience”, declares Fabrice Marque, manager of Advanced Customer Strategy for Accenture Strategy.
Too many companies underestimate the importance of individual interaction in their marketing strategy. Nonetheless, a disappointed customer, particularly in France, is difficult to win back. Only 24% of those last-named are willing to return to their former supplier, as compared to 37% on average in Europe. Furthermore, 55% of consumers changed supplier last year because of a bad experience with customer services. So to save themselves the bother of this frustration, 43% of respondents state that they are willing to pay more for the products proposed if they receive a higher quality service.
The customer experience must be multichannel
Accenture Strategy’s report, “Human interaction: The cornerstone of your customer strategy” specifies: “Incorrectly assuming that their digital customers constitute the better part of their clientele, and that customer services represent an expensive cost, [companies] invest in digital channels and end up by losing their most lucrative customers, the multichannel customers, who are looking for an experience involving both digital and physical networks.”
For consumers, the importance of human interaction is primordial without, however, relinquishing their interest for a company digital presence. Of these consumers, 44% prefer to go to the shop to obtain information before buying on the internet. Moreover, 58% consider that the best personalised customer service is to be found at the shop.
Multiple measures for improvement
On a customer level, 81% of them reported that they are faced with difficulties in contacting companies, and that 68% call for a simpler and more practical customer service. Furthermore, 66% want to see a more rapid service.
Fabrice Marque finishes by stating: “The challenge for companies is to create a hybrid model that integrates a good deal of humanity in digital channels, and technology in physical channels. This combination proposes an experience that responds to customers’ expectations.”