By the time you finish reading this sentence, there’s a good chance someone in Canada will have dumped one of the companies they do business with, or at least be thinking about it.

According to a recent research report from consulting firm Accenture, Canadian businesses are particularly at risk of what it calls the “switching economy.” In other words, a perceived lack of good customer service—particularly as more interactions happen across digital channels—is leading 52 per cent of Canadians surveyed to say they are considering moving away from one provider of products and services they’ve used and to try a competitor.

Overall, Accenture said there is a 16 per cent increase in the revenue that is “up for grabs” as Canadians become more fickle, and customer service strategies are the biggest influence on whether they switch or not.

Not surprisingly, the Accenture report suggests Canadian businesses may not be moving quickly enough to master the digital channels they can use to serve customers. If you haven’t started developing a strategy to make use of cloud computing, mobile apps, social media or analytics, these stats may help you make the business case:

89%: The portion of Canadians who say their number one frustration is not being able to have their problem solved based on their first interaction. Whether you offer customer service via telephone, a website or a social media channel, the data has to be in the right place to address a particular situation. This, of course, is where CRM can come to the rescue. Great people are as important as great technology. Train your staff in the phrases and behaviour that enhance, rather than detract from customer service.

45%: The level of satisfaction for the services offered via company web sites. Clearly, Canadian firms have to do more, which probably not only means more powerful online portals but a mix of apps and social tools to engage with customers. Instead of just offering information to help people buy a product or service, create tutorials that will help them navigate any potential landmines that make for a bad experience.

28%: More than one-quarter of Canadians told Accenture they feel “very loyal” toward the companies they do business with, which means there are a lot out there that are ready to make a move. Establish a customer service roadmap alongside your products and services so you’ll be better prepared to keep your customers happy as your market share grows.

74%: The percentage of consumers who said they are prepared to share bad experiences they’ve had with customer service to their friends. This shot up five per cent in Canada over the last year. Those irate customers now have many more social channels to share their views, rather than just word of mouth. If you haven’t already, start monitoring major services like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for mentions of your firm, and be prepared to publicly address any unresolved issues.

84%: Despite the doom and gloom, all is not lost, as this stat represents the number of Canadians who might not have switched buying from a company if its customer service somehow improved. Start by setting up auto-acknowledgments to ensure customers that you understand their issues and are already at work on a more detailed fix.

As more applications and devices make it easier than ever for Canadians to buy products and services, the risk of falling behind in the switching economy may be inevitable. The first step is recognizing the potential problems within your customer base and developing an action plan to stop the exodus before it starts.

To learn how to deliver customer service that's more personalized, smarter and faster than ever, download Salesforce’s free eBook: How the Smart Agent Console Can Transform Your Customer Service.

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