NEW YORK; Nov. 12, 2009 – Companies expanding into emerging markets during the economic upturn may find that consumers there more readily quit doing business with a company because of poor service than consumers in mature markets, according to findings in the fifth annual Accenture (NYSE:ACN) consumer service study.
The study also found that they are most likely to write about those experiences on the Internet.
The study, based on an online survey of more than 5,000 consumers across 12 countries about their customer-service experiences and expectations, found that 87 percent of consumers in the emerging markets switched providers in at least one industry sector because of poor service within 12 months before completing the survey. That was 18 percent more than the global average of 69 percent, which was up from 67 percent in 2008.
Additionally, the study found that the vast majority of consumers (89 percent) tell their acquaintances about their bad experiences, and 25 percent use social media to alert others. Moreover, using the Internet to voice service complaints was more prevalent in emerging markets, where 40 percent of consumers said they use blogs and other online media to tell others about their negative experiences.
While the study found a growing gap around the world between services delivered and customer expectations, the gap was most prevalent in emerging markets, where 68 percent of consumers said companies “sometimes, rarely or never” meet their expectations. By comparison, 56 percent of consumers in mature markets responded similarly. However, there were variations by country along a continuum, with 50 percent of consumers in India, 62 percent in Belgium and 71 percent in Singapore reporting that their expectations are met “sometimes, rarely or never.”
The study also found that the gap is growing, particularly in emerging markets, where 75 percent of consumers said their expectations are “higher” or “much higher” than they were five years ago. By comparison, 51 percent of mature-market consumers said their expectations were “slightly” or “much higher.”
For companies seeking to expand into emerging markets, the study confirmed that these markets offer growth opportunities for companies wanting to grow their bottom line. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of consumers in emerging market countries expressed interest in trying products and services produced in other countries. Two-thirds (66 percent) of consumers in emerging markets as compared to 48 percent of consumers in mature markets reported that they did not care about where a product or service was produced.
“While consumers in emerging markets are receptive to new products and services, like consumers everywhere, they don’t all want the same thing,” said Dave Rich, managing director, Accenture Customer Relationship Management (CRM) practice. “But trying to be all things to all customers is not a winning strategy either.
“Companies must carefully consider who their most valuable customers are, identify their best growth opportunities and invest accordingly.”
The Accenture study found stronger support for the use of technology to deliver services among emerging market consumers (32 percent), who were four times more likely than consumers in mature markets (8 percent) to “strongly agree” that technology had improved service in the past five years. Furthermore, several findings demonstrated that emerging market consumers more frequently use newer technology channels:
- 52 percent of emerging market consumers vs. 44 percent of mature market consumers use the Internet to search for help;
- 49 percent of emerging market consumers vs. 40 percent of mature market consumers surf corporate websites;
- 35 percent of emerging market consumers vs. 15 percent of mature market consumers engage in online chats;
- 14 percent of emerging market consumers vs. 3 percent of mature market consumers use text messaging to seek assistance; and
- 9 percent of emerging market consumers vs. 4 percent of mature market consumers use blogs to seek help.
In addition to differences, the study identified common reasons why consumers become frustrated and stop doing business with a company, including:
- Being left on hold too long;
- Having to repeat the same information to multiple service representatives;
- Encounters with rude or unfriendly service representatives; and
- Representatives who could not answer their questions.
“Companies that want to grow their business with profitable customer relationships must adopt new service models that have the potential to appeal to a more varied consumer base, while also delivering the right experiences to the right customers,” said Chris Allen, managing director, Accenture CRM Service Transformation practice. “How well a company is able to target the right sets of customers and use technology to create service experiences that appeal to those customers will be crucial – especially in emerging markets where customer loyalty appears to be particularly elusive.”
In other findings:
- 83 percent of emerging market consumers said they selected a new provider primarily based on service expectations, while 74 percent of mature market consumers cited price;
- 76 percent of emerging market consumers vs. 61 percent of mature market consumers have higher expectations than they previously had for fast service; and
- 39 percent of emerging market consumers most frequently said they were willing to speak with one person about a service issue, while 32 percent of mature market consumers were willing to follow up as many times as necessary with a company to resolve an issue.
The Web-based survey of 5,050 consumers in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, South Africa, Belgium, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States was fielded from June 19 to July 17, 2009. Accenture has fielded similar customer service satisfaction surveys annually since 2005, expanding the study in 2008 to include Germany and India, and again in 2009 to include South Africa, Belgium and Singapore.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. 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. With approximately 177,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, 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.