CRM investments failing to foster customer loyalty

Being put on hold is top gripe, says new research...

Being put on hold is top gripe, says new research...

Poor customer service remains the main reason consumers desert a product or service despite the vast amounts of money invested by businesses on customer relationship management (CRM) technologies in recent years, according to new research.

Half of UK consumers claim poor customer service has led them to change service providers in the past 12 months, while around two-thirds (67 per cent) said there has been no overall improvement in customer service in the last five years.

The survey of more than 1,000 UK consumers by Accenture found people spend an average of six minutes on hold when phoning customer service numbers, and when they do get through it takes three agents to resolve their issue.

It's not surprising, then, that being kept on hold too long is the most frustrating aspect of dealing with customer service agents (named by 82 per cent of respondents), followed by needing to repeat the same information to multiple service agents (77 per cent).

Other bugbears include customer service representatives trying to sell other services and products (51 per cent), inflexible service (49 per cent), and slow responses (48 per cent).

More than a third of consumers said the most satisfying customer service experience is being able to get assistance from a company without being forwarded to multiple representatives.

The utility industry suffers from the highest levels of customer churn (18 per cent), while airlines have the lowest (four per cent), the research found.

John Freeland, global managing partner of Accenture's CRM practice, said in the research report the findings are troubling for any industry with heavy customer interaction.

"Winning companies strike the right balance between using technology to help reduce costs and streamlining the customer experience with well-considered processes that contribute to more personalised services," he said.