Bad customer service costing Singapore firms a whopping US$16b in revenue

Here's what's making customers angry.

Despite having more data and insights into consumer desires and preferences, companies in Singapore have failed to meaningfully improve customer satisfaction or reverse rising switching rates among their customers. As a result, there is a potential US$16 billion of revenue at play in the Singapore market represented by the ‘switching economy’, according to new research released by Accenture (NYSE: ACN).

The research revealed that in the past year, almost 70 percent of Singapore consumers switched service providers due to poor customer service experiences.

Switching rates were highest among retailers, banks, hotels, Internet service providers and airlines – making companies in these sectors the most vulnerable, but also giving them potentially the most to gain.

Accenture’s analysis of consumer spending forecasts and switching rates revealed by the survey shows that US$16 billion of revenue is being transferred between companies in Singapore, forming a sizeable ‘switching economy’.

The findings are published along with the ninth annual Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Survey, which measured the experiences of 12,867 customers in 32 countries and across 10 industries to gain insight into the changing dynamics of today’s “nonstop” customers and assess consumer attitudes toward marketing, sales and customer service practices. The survey included over 300 customers in Singapore.

The survey found that customers are increasingly frustrated with the level of services they experience: 80 percent of respondents are frustrated that they have to contact a company multiple times for the same reason; 79 percent by being put on hold for a long time; and 78 percent by having to repeat their issue to multiple representatives.

There are also frustrations with marketing and sales practices: 73 percent of customers are frustrated by the wait for a response after requesting customer service; 79 percent by companies promising one thing, but delivering another; and 78 percent are frustrated with unfriendly or impolite customer service agents.

Against the high percentage of customers reporting they had switched providers in the last year, 83 percent said that the company could have done something differently to prevent them from switching.

They said that first contact resolution (59 percent), or proactive contact (48 percent), would have influenced their decision to switch. And, while the survey showed that price still plays an important role in the choice of provider, the customer experience is equally important.

“Changing customer behaviours in the digital marketplace and low levels of customer satisfaction are fueling a switching economy that presents opportunities as well as threats.” said Lee Joon Seong, Managing Director, Sales & Customer Services, ASEAN, Accenture.

“Growth is harder to come by in many sectors but the switching economy presents a source of new and profitable growth for companies that choose to play to win (rather than playing not to lose). To win requires a holistic approach that goes beyond simply implementing customer relationship management technology.

Companies need to create engaging customer experiences that today’s “nonstop” customers are seeking. Done right, customer experience can become a source of competitive differentiation that pulls companies away from competition” said Lee.

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