OPERATIONS

Survey: Defecting consumers could have been retained

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — Although consumers are defecting in growing numbers, the majority say they could have been retained, according to survey results released Wednesday by Accenture.

According to the Accenture Global Consumer Survey, in 2012 one-in-five consumers switched companies they buy from — including retailers, wireless phone and Internet service — marking a 5% increase in switching over 2011 levels. However, the survey also found that 85% of consumers say the companies could have done something differently to prevent them from switching.

Among those consumers who would have stayed if their provider had acted differently, two-thirds (67%) pointed to having their customer service issue resolved during their first contact as a factor. More than half (54%) might have remained loyal if they had been rewarded for doing more business with their provider.

Among retailers specifically, the rise in switching was 22% in 2012, up from 16% in 2011.

Broken promises are a top area of frustration for consumers, according to the survey: 63% of respondents indicate it’s extremely frustrating when a company delivers a different customer service experience from what it promised upfront.

Other frustrations that make consumers more likely to switch include:

  • Having to contact customer service multiple times for the same reason (65%);
  • Dealing with unfriendly customer service agents (65%); and
  • Being on hold for a long time when contacting customer service (61%).

“The sobering reality is that ‘tried and true’ strategies for customer acquisition, loyalty and retention are struggling to keep pace with consumers who are perpetually in motion, more technologically savvy than ever, and increasingly unpredictable,” said Robert Wollan, global managing director — Accenture Sales & Customer Services. “The news this year is that customers want to be loyal but customer service often fails to meet their expectations.”

Other survey key findings include:

  • 48% of respondents say that they have higher expectations of getting specialized treatment for being a “good” customer;
  • 31% prefer companies that use information about them to make their experience more efficient; and
  • When evaluating a company, 31% of respondents say they trust comments posted by people they know, echoing the importance of word of mouth. More than a quarter (28%) say positive comments in social media affect purchasing decisions and 28% say negative comments do so.

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Schimenti expands headquarters

BY Staff Writer

Ridgefield, Conn. — Schimenti Construction announced it has completed an expansion of its company headquarters in Ridgefield, Conn., doubling the size of the space from 10,000 sq. ft. to 20,000 sq. ft.

The expansion also includes a redesign of the main floor with the creation of a new reception area. A new executive conference room has been added on the first floor, as well as new waiting areas on both floors. A training space has been incorporated into the new design and a new employee café features a Starbucks coffee bar.

The company said it is also in the process of relocating and expanding its New York City location and expects to have new, larger offices completed in early 2013.

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IBM completes acquisition of Kenexa

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Armonk, N.Y. — IBM announced Tuesday the closing of its acquisition of Kenexa, a provider of recruiting and talent management solutions, for approximately $1.3 billion.

IBM said that Kenexa complements its strategy of bringing relevant data and expertise into the hands of business leaders within every functional department, from sales and marketing to product development and human resources.

"By creating a smarter workforce, employees can drive innovation to bring products and services to market faster, resolve problems before they arise to improve customer service, and increase sales by building new skills — linking the right experts to the right clients," said Alistair Rennie, general manager, social business, IBM. "The combination of Kenexa’s world-class human capital management solutions and IBM’s social business and analytics leadership uniquely positions IBM to help clients generate real returns from their social business investments, while helping them to be more competitive in their markets."

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