February 16, 2010
Consumers Desire Better “Touch and Feel” Retail Experience When Buying Communications Products and Services, Accenture Study Finds

BARCELONA; Feb. 16, 2010 – Three out of four consumers still want to visit a physical retail store when buying a communications product or service, but they are not very satisfied with their experience and rated it only slightly better than average, according to an Accenture (NYSE:ACN) study released today.
 
Accenture surveyed more than 3,000 consumers in 18 countries to find out how the physical retail channel can help communications companies build strong customer relationships. Accenture also asked consumers what they want to do in, and expect from, a provider’s retail store. More than half (56 percent) of the consumers surveyed had bought a mobile phone, wireless phone service plan, or cable television service at a provider’s retail store in the past year. According to the survey:
  • Seventy-five percent of consumers – especially professionals and 18 to 34 year-olds – want to visit a retail store when buying communications-related products and services, and 77 percent of all consumers think it’s important that a communications provider has a physical store they can visit. 
  • Sixty-three percent of consumers who purchased a communications product or service in the past year did so at a company-owned store. 
  • Seventy-seven percent of consumers said the quality of the store experience is an important factor in their decision to do business with a communications provider.
  • Although more than half of consumers (59 percent) said their experience in a provider’s retail store was good, 30 percent said their experience was fair or poor and only 11 percent said their experience was excellent.   
When consumers were asked which store attributes are important to them, product availability in a store was most important to those surveyed (56 percent), followed by knowledgeable staff (54 percent), attitude of staff (32 percent), and speed of service (28 percent).
 
When consumers ranked attributes of the retail experience, 57 percent said they were satisfied with product availability; 60 percent were satisfied with store sales or service staff level of knowledge; 61 percent said they were satisfied with the attitude of staff; and 44 percent said they were satisfied with speed of service.
 
“In today’s highly competitive environment, retail stores must perform much better in terms of satisfaction, especially since consumers’ needs and expectations are much higher,” said John Liesching, executive director, retail, Communications practice, Accenture. “Retail will continue to be an important battleground and having a strong retail presence will serve as a major differentiator to help providers attract and retain customers. There are significant opportunities to improve all of the components that make up a store experience, especially on those attributes that consumers value most, such as in-stock percentage; knowledge, attitude, and availability of staff; and speed of service.”
 
Consumers want consistent experience across all channels
 
Nearly every respondent (97 percent) in the survey desired a consistent experience across all channels, with the ability to access the same products, services, and assistance, whether they are in a communication provider’s store, phoning the company, or using the company’s web site. 
 
The survey findings also provided insights regarding the channels consumers prefer to use when performing certain activities. Seventy-five percent of consumers prefer to go online to conduct research (learn about new service and/or offers), and 75 percent of those surveyed prefer online for self-service, such as updating personal details. Fifty-one percent prefer going online to renew service contracts. 
 
According to the survey, the top two reasons consumers prefer to visit a communication provider’s retail store are to buy a new product or service (65 percent), and to learn how to use new products and services (31 percent). Although only 15 percent of consumers surveyed visited a store to learn how to use new products and services in the past year, their preference illustrates a growing interest in doing so.
 
Consumers surveyed said they prefer to call for support-related matters, such as reporting faulty equipment or service issues (58 percent), getting technical assistance (56 percent) or making a complaint about a product/service (50 percent).
 
 “We believe that an integrated, cohesive, and consistent multi-channel experience is critical to attracting and retaining the hearts and minds of today’s consumers. There is a lot of evidence that indicates getting retail right is as important as ever and can be a powerful competitive weapon and driver of growth over the next several years,” Liesching said.  
 
The survey findings indicate that the need for a physical retail store will remain great in the coming years as well. More than three-quarters of all consumers surveyed said that in two years, physical retail stores will be as important as or more important than providers’ online stores. And among many sub-groups of consumers, retail stores will become more important over the next two years, according to students (35 percent), skilled labor (25 percent) executives in management positions (30 percent) and consumers in Asia (41 percent).
 
For more information, visit www.accenture.com/retail-channel.
 
Methodology
Accenture conducted an online survey of 3,148 consumers in 18 countries between December 2009 and January 2010. Consumers were evenly split along age, gender, education and occupation lines. The vast majority has mobile phone (89 percent) or fixed phone (87 percent) service. Forty seven percent have cable television or DSL service, 31 percent have satellite television, 29 percent have satellite Internet and eight percent have satellite radio service.   Sixty percent of respondents said their services are part of a bundled package. 
 
 
About Accenture
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 176,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries.  Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments.  The company generated net revenues of US$21.58 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2009.  Its home page is www.accenture.com.
 
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Contact:
 
Barbara Burgess
Accenture
+1 (973) 301-1260 (office)
+1 (973) 216-7036 (mobile)
barbara.burgess@accenture.com
 
Todd Petruska
Burson-Marsteller
+1 (212) 614-4704
todd.petruska@bm.com