Consumers see little value in CRM: survey

Automated self-help systems aren't delivering, according to a poll of users

Most consumers of high technology products say the use of customer relationship management (CRM) software by their vendors has not improved the vendors’ service offerings — and in many cases has made it worse, according to the results of a survey released last week by Accenture.

The consulting firm notes that such consumer dissatisfaction has a ripple effect on vendors — 73% of those surveyed said that mere “average” service would prompt them to consider evaluating the products of other vendors.

In March, Accenture surveyed 1,200 technology consumers and 35 executives at technology companies about their experiences with automated service systems.

“This is a wake-up call that customer service should no longer be relegated to a mere instrument for extracting costs out of the business,” says Brett Anderson, managing director for CRM in Accenture’s communications and high tech practice. “With so many technology products on a natural path to commoditisation, technology companies need to use customer service to differentiate themselves from competitors.”

One of the more sobering statistics, Accenture says, is that 42% of the customers reported that they had to access CRM channels multiple times to resolve a problem, while 61% said automated service systems don’t speed resolution.

The survey also noted that 58% of customers using CRM systems believe that their customer service is average or below average, while 75% of vendor executives surveyed said they believe automated systems are providing “above average” service to their customers.

About 77% of vendor executives said that self-service CRM systems have had a positive impact on their businesses and 93% of those executives contended that CRM systems have speeded problem resolution. Of the executives polled, 74% said the technology has directly led to higher customer satisfaction.

Meanwhile, only 13% of the customers said the ability to resolve their own problems with online CRM was a valuable capability for them, prompting Accenture to suggest that some vendors are wasting millions of dollars on such initiatives. “In sum, companies have a long way to go before their customer service capabilities provide the experience customers seek,” according to Accenture.

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