Most consumers of high technology products say that use of customer relationship management (CRM) software by their vendors has not improved their service offerings - and in many cases has made it worse, according to the results of a survey released this week by Accenture.
Accenture noted that such consumer dissatisfaction has a ripple effect on vendors - 73 percent of those surveyed said that mere "average" service would prompt them to consider evaluating products of other vendors.
The consulting firm in March surveyed 1,200 technology consumers and 35 executives at high 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," stated Brett Anderson, managing director for CRM in Accenture's communications and high tech practice, in an announcement. "With so many technology products on a natural path to commoditization, technology companies need to use customer service to differentiate themselves from competitors."
One of the more sobering statistics, Accenture said, was that 42 percent of the customers reported that they had to access CRM channels multiple times to resolve a problem, while 61 percent said automated service systems doesn't speed resolution.
The survey also noted that 58 percent of customers using CRM systems believe that their customer service is average or below average, while 75 percent of vendor executives surveyed said they believed automated systems are providing "above average" service to their customers.
About 77 percent of vendor executives said that self-service CRM systems have had a positive impact on their businesses. And 93 percent of those executives contended that CRM systems have speeded problem resolution and 74 percent said the technology has directly led to higher customer satisfaction.
Meanwhile, only 13 percent 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," it said.