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Accenture

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How Service and Support Influence Buying Decisions

Product quality, although important, may merely be the price of market entry

Published: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - 13:31

(Accenture: New York) -- Services are increasingly the differentiator that can make or break a company, according to a recent Accenture survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers.

According to the study, “It’s more than just your product—how service and support influence buying decisions.” The service experience was most frequently identified by consumers as the “most important factor” when buying a product (26%), closely followed by brand reputation (25%). Quality, although important, was last, with 13 percent of consumers indicating that it was the most important factor.

Seventy-four percent of those surveyed said the degree to which they factor services into their buying decisions has “increased significantly” or “somewhat,” compared to 26 percent who said it decreased at least “somewhat” or “significantly” more.

Service matters for many reasons, but two stand out:
Total cost of ownership was most frequently identified as the primary reason for valuing or not valuing a service in conjunction with the purchase of automobiles (43% of the consumers surveyed) and home appliances, electronics, and consumer technology (37%). It was mentioned second most frequently in relation to cable, wireless, and Internet service provider (28%) and electric and gas utility (26%) buying decisions.

Convenience of service was most prevalent when making buying decisions related to electric and gas utilities (34%) and cable, wireless, and Internet service providers (33%). It was the second most prevalent factor in the purchase of an automobile, as it was noted by 21 percent the consumers, but just as many also identified the expected use of service over the lifespan of the automobile as a primary reason for valuing or not valuing the service.

Good news for bad reputations

There is good news for companies that have a bad service reputation: A turnaround may be possible. Forty-three percent of those surveyed would reconsider buying a product from a company that previously delivered poor service “if the brand has significantly improved its service perception in the marketplace.”

Thirty-one percent would make another purchase from a company, despite a bad experience, if “the product is either technically superior or is available at a lesser cost than comparable products in the market.”

But not everyone is willing to give a company a second chance. Twenty-six percent of consumers would never buy another a product from a company if they had a bad service experience.

All services are not equal

What is important depends on what a consumer is buying, underscoring the need for customer analytics capabilities that unearth buyer preferences.

Selling automobiles: Consumers (75%) indicated that services offered at the point of purchase (e.g., extended warranty, free installation, financing) are slightly more important than the in-store service and buying experience, or the after-sales service (each was identified as important by 74% of those surveyed).
Home appliances/electronics/consumer technology: The in-store service and buying experience was most important, according to 83 percent of the consumers. By comparison, 67 percent said service offered during the purchase was important, and 63 percent responded likewise about post-sale service.
Cable/wireless/Internet service providers: Seventy-two percent of the consumers said after sales and service was important; 69 percent said that about the point of purchase services, and 58 percent identified in-store services and the buying experience.
Electric and gas utilities: Consumers prioritized these services in the same order, with 60 percent selecting post-sales services, 53 percent identifying the point of purchase, and 54 percent emphasizing prepurchase services and experiences.

Methodology
In July 2011, more than 1,000 U.S. consumers of all ages were surveyed online about their service experiences and buying decisions across four sectors:
• Home appliance, electronics, and consumer technology
• Automobiles
• Electric and gas utilities
• Cable, wireless, and Internet service providers

The survey questions focused on how service offerings and service experiences influence a consumer’s purchase decisions while also probing into how services can influence a consumer’s decision making.

 

Discuss

About The Author

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Accenture

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world's most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. Offices and operations in more than 200 cities in 54 countries. Accenture delivers its services and solutions through 19 focused industry groups in five operating groups: Communications & High Tech, Financial Services, Health & Public Service, Products, and Resources.