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Human factor: What really convinces customers

Human factor: What really convinces customers

Today, technology can replace people in a variety of ways, thereby optimizing and making processes more precise and minimizing costs. When it comes to customer service, however, companies shouldn’t rely on it: According to a recent study by the service company Accenture, personal advice is an important key to customer loyalty.

The study “Digital Disconnect in Customer Engagement” by Accenture Strategy is based on the annual consumer survey Global Consumer Pulse Research. To this end, more than 24,000 consumers worldwide were asked about their satisfaction with marketing, sales and service channels and their loyalty, including 1,240 from Germany.

Three quarters – 74 percent – of the respondents stated in the study that they prefer human advice to digital ones. They use the latter to get faster answers, for example. However, only six percent find that digital and physical channels are well coordinated.

Good advice can be expensive

The study shows how the behavior and attitudes of customers in relation to digital and analog customer experiences are changing. Three out of four German consumers prefer personal contact for advice (78 percent) and problems (74 percent). One in three (31 percent) would even be willing to pay a higher price for a product or service if it were associated with better customer service. When visiting a store in particular, customers in Germany value good advice (70 percent) and the opportunity to touch and try products (66 percent). These are significantly higher values ​​than in comparable European countries or in the USA.

“It is a fallacy to believe that the new digital possibilities will automatically increase service quality and thus customer satisfaction,” says Sven Drinkuth, Managing Director at Accenture Strategy and Head of Advanced Customer Strategy. “Companies must not lose sight of the human factor. Customer service employees are too often seen as a cost factor. It is they who decide whether a customer stays with his provider or changes to the competition disappointed. “

Bad customer service has consequences

Bad experiences with advice or customer service also have consequences. More than half of the respondents (52 percent) then changed at least one provider in the past year. Most often, customers have turned their backs on retailers (17 percent), cell phone providers (13 percent) and banks (11 percent).

Companies also have cause for concern because of the decreasing loyalty of brands. Only a quarter of those surveyed felt particularly loyal to their current providers and one in four stated that they thought about a change more often than two years ago. When looking for a new provider, reputation only plays a subordinate role. Much more important are criteria such as price (64 percent), service (61 percent) and product (47 percent).

“Today loyalty no longer belongs to the brand but to the experience,” says Sven Drinkuth. “What matters is the moment. Companies have to recognize this and respond with tailor-made service offers and personal advice. This requires the perfect interaction between the customer service employee and the digital service channels so that a uniform customer experience is created. “

Once gone, always gone

Much is at stake for companies. The sales volume that is lost due to customers leaving the country is around 330 billion euros for Germany alone. So taking care of existing customers pays off. After all, three quarters (77 percent) of those switching customers said they would have stayed with their provider if they had made more effort. Winning these customers back is very time-consuming and expensive. Almost two thirds (63 percent) stated that they could not imagine going back to their old provider. And those who come back only do so when they see price advantages. “Digitization is helpful, but not a panacea,” says Sven Drinkuth. “Digital service channels increase the possibilities for customers to make contact and that works much easier and faster than before. But real customer loyalty only comes about through people. This is all the more important because companies often only have one chance when it really matters. If that goes wrong, the customer says goodbye. “