Businesses that Capitalize on Consumer Behavior Change are Better Positioned to Outperform Economic Growth, Finds Accenture
Global businesses that capitalize on major changes in consumer behavior can generate significant growth over the next few years, according to a new report from Accenture.
The report, entitled “Energizing Global Growth: Understanding the Changing Consumer,” concludes that companies able to capitalize on these changes with speed and agility could capture a portion of the trillions of dollars in growth that businesses globally are likely to see over the next few years as the result of changing consumer behaviors. Accenture estimates that just 20 sectors most associated with these changes are set to enjoy growth of US$2.4 trillion by 2016.
The report is based on four individual studies: an online survey of 10,000 consumers in 10 countries across five continents; a survey of 600 business executives in those same 10 countries; an assessment of the world’s top 3,000 listed companies by market capitalization and their revenue growth compared with the industry averages over various timeframes; and a macroeconomic analysis conducted in conjunction with Oxford Economics to assess the impact of changing consumer behavior.
Among the key changes in consumer behavior the report identified:
Consumers are increasingly "connected" – often online, interacting with companies and other consumers to research and purchase products, share advice, and praise or criticize a business. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of the consumers surveyed said they use the Internet to research or purchase products or services more than they did three years ago. Consumers are also increasingly using social media as a tool in the purchasing process.
Consumers are increasingly "demanding" – seeking products and services customized to meet their specific needs. Approximately two-thirds of consumers surveyed said that it is important to be able to buy what they want when they want it (68 percent) and to be able to customize the product or service to be exactly what they want (63 percent).
Consumers are increasingly "conscientious" – seeking sustainable goods and services, they are focused on where and how their products are made and on doing business with companies that make a positive social and/or environmental impact. Half (51 percent) of consumers surveyed said they consider the environmental impact of the product or manufacturer before purchasing a product more often than they did three years ago.
Accenture also found that while nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of business executives said that consumer behavior has changed markedly in the last three years, a similar proportion (74 percent) said they do not fully understand the consumer changes that are under way – and even more (80 percent) said they believe that their companies are not taking full advantage of the opportunities these changes present.
Recommendations for Capitalizing on Consumer Behavior Changes
The report makes recommendations on how companies can achieve growth and outperform competitors by effectively addressing changing consumer behavior, taking their lead from “growth leaders” in their industries:
Invest in advanced analytics tools – and the relevant workforce skills – to assess these changes and interpret consumer data. Armed with such data, companies will be better equipped to enhance the consumer experience with more-tailored customer service. For instance, the analytics program of a leading media-rental company enables it to recommend movie and TV titles based on an individual consumer’s preferences and rental history.
Have the strategic mindset to recognize and adapt to disruptive consumer change and competitive threats. A global car-rental company replicated the business model of new players offering hourly rentals. By meeting disruption head-on, the company has been able to use its scale and scope to reduce the threat of new competition while improving customer service.
Put in place "flexible" organizational models that enable the company to be more agile and act quickly. This might entail acquisitions, divestments or partnerships to complement existing capabilities. For instance, a US-based grocer understood at an early stage consumers’ growing emphasis on healthy living and carried out numerous mergers and acquisitions to become a global leader in natural foods.
Call Centers Find Social Media Best Used for 'Damage Control', See Overall Increase in Customer Satisfaction
In its annual Call Center Satisfaction Index (CCSI), CFI Group, a customer satisfaction measurement technology and analytics firm, reported that call centers are rapidly transforming into contact centers -- incorporating the Web, email, and other sources -- and that social media play an important role in raising customer satisfaction and likely recommendations.
For the sixth straight year, CFI Group has surveyed recent users of customer service functions to analyze the factors that impact satisfaction with call centers. The 2012 survey, involving more than 2,300 participants, found that "non-call" service methods, such as email, Web self-service, chat and other online techniques, now account for more than 30 percent of customer service engagements.
The survey revealed that Web self-service and email dominate the non-phone-call mix of contact channels, but social media are playing a critical role. That role is not as a first-line service channel but rather as a "damage control" mechanism. Customers who posted their experience with a contact center in social media and then received subsequent follow-up via social media concerning their experience rated their final satisfaction with the contact center experience nearly 20 percent higher than those who received no follow-up. Furthermore, consumers who ranked their likelihood to recommend the company in these cases increased by almost 15 percent.
As the way we communicate with each other continues to evolve, social media is quickly becoming the dominant force in customer buzz. In general, people shared their experience with others 47 percent of the time within the 2012 CCSI sample, up from 45 percent of the time in 2011. Of these people that shared, a full 91 percent of them used social media in some form to do their sharing. Facebook dominated the social media channels, representing 33 percent of the "sharing volume."
The 2012 study also addresses the practice of offshoring and its gradual decline. The 2012 CCSI study shows that 9 percent of call centers are offshoring, compared to its peak in 2008 at 15 percent. CFI Group found that while offshoring as a percentage is decreasing, satisfaction with offshore centers have grown by 20 percent.
Call centers of all types have resumed slow but steady improvements in satisfaction scores after a slight dip in 2011. Key drivers of satisfaction contributed across the board to this overall increase in satisfaction, to a score of 77 on a 100-point scale, with no single driver accounting for a disproportionate amount of the increase.
The most improved satisfaction index scores in 2012 compared to the previous year were for companies in banking, property and casualty insurance, and retail, each of which recovered from a decline in 2011. The only drop in satisfaction among the areas studied was a one-point dip in the personal computer sector.
Survey of More than 2,000 CIOs Shows Digital Technologies are Top Priorities in 2013
Enterprises realize on average only 43 percent of technology's business potential, according to a global survey of CIOs by Gartner, Inc.'s Executive Programs. That number has to grow for IT to remain relevant in an increasingly digital world.
The worldwide survey was conducted in the fourth quarter in 2012 and included 2,053 CIOs, representing more than $230 billion in CIO IT budgets and covering 36 industries in 41 countries. The Gartner Executive Programs report, "Hunting and Harvesting in a Digital World: The 2013 CIO Agenda," represents the world's most comprehensive examination of business priorities and CIO strategies.
Over the last 18 months, digital technologies — including mobile, analytics, big data, social and cloud — have reached a tipping point with business executives. Analysts said there is no choice but to increase technology's potential in the enterprise, and this means evolving IT's strategies, priorities and plans beyond tending to the usual concerns as CIOs expect their 2013 IT budgets to be essentially flat for the fifth straight year.
The survey showed that CIO IT budgets have been flat to negative ever since the dot-com bust of 2002. For 2013, CIO IT budgets are projected to be slightly down, with a weighted global average decline of 0.5 percent.
Digital technologies dominate CIO technology priorities for 2013. The top 10 global technology priorities revealed by the survey reflect a greater emphasis on externally oriented digital technologies, as opposed to traditional IT/operationally oriented systems.
CIOs see these technologies as disrupting business fundamentally over the next 10 years. When asked which digital technologies would be most disruptive, 70 percent of CIOs cited mobile technologies, followed by big data/analytics at 55 percent, social media at 54 percent and public cloud at 51 percent. The disruptiveness of each of these technologies is real, but CIOs see their greatest disruptive power coming in combination, rather than in isolation.
As needs and opportunities evolve, more CIOs will find themselves leading in areas outside of traditional IT. In addition to their tending role, they are starting to assume responsibility for hunting for digital opportunities and harvesting value. Sixty-seven percent of CIOs surveyed have significant leadership responsibilities outside of IT, with only 33 percent having no other such responsibilities. This situation contrasts sharply with 2008, when almost half of CIOs had no responsibilities outside of IT. Almost a fifth of CIOs now act as their enterprise's chief digital officer (CDO), leading digital commerce and channels. Although this nascent role varies in scope and style, it normally includes championing the digital vision for the business -- that is, ensuring that the business is evolving optimally in the new digital context.
2013 Research: Mobile Customer Service Strategy Results Released
The International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) has released its 2013 research report, A Mobile Customer Service Strategy: The Contact Center, the Agent, and the Challenges of Implementation, including key findings and study results.
The study results were collected from a late 2012 online survey to 422 customer service professionals. Worldwide participants from various industries and all levels of the contact center answered questions pertaining to their Mobile Customer Service Strategy. The research shows that contact centers recognize the importance of providing mobile customer service directly from the device, but that they aren’t always sure how to implement. Those contact centers that get involved early in the planning and support of the Mobile Customer Service Strategy will have the best opportunity to provide the desired customer experience.
The argument for mobile customer service is strong, and a solid plan is imperative to a successful implementation. When built correctly, a Mobile Customer Service Strategy will provide lasting benefits to the company, and the contact center. The key benefits that contact center leaders can expect to gain will extend far beyond 2013.
A few key findings from the research study include:
Over 43% say their company knows mobile customer service is a priority
68% say it improves their user experience
Almost 62% think it’s a competitive differentiator
44% are in the planning stages
Only 25% report actually having a mobile customer service strategy for 2013
Brands and retailers lose opportunities for sales, referrals and stronger, more loyal customer relationships when online shoppers are left with difficulty getting answers to questions, concludes a national study conducted by The Adcom Group for Virtual Hold Technology. But shoppers say they will promote brands that offer them help, the study shows. Shoppers say their online purchase experience affects their product reviews (78 percent), satisfaction with the product (66 percent) and impression of the retailer (64 percent). A majority would purchase more products from a website that allows them to click or tap to receive an immediate or scheduled callback from a person qualified to answer questions or solve online purchase problems. More than 90 percent say they would be somewhat or much more likely to shop on such a website, and some indicate they would even pay more for products sold there.