Skip to main content Skip to Footer


Digital disconnect in customer engagement

Companies need to rebalance digital and traditional investments to drive growth.


The eleventh annual Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Survey measured the experiences of 24,489 customers in 33 countries and across 11 industries at the end of 2015 to assess consumer attitudes toward marketing, sales and customer service practices.

Our results show that even in the “digital age” human interaction remains a vital component of customer satisfaction. Seventy-six percent of South African consumers prefer dealing with human beings over engagement on digital channels.

Furthermore, seventy-nine percent of consumers switched providers between August 2014 and September 2015 due to poor customer service. In South Africa, the estimated cost of customers switching due to poor service is R625 billion.

Key Findings

Reliance on digital technologies has resulted in “human-less” customer services:

  • Seventy-six percent of South African consumers prefer dealing with human beings.

  • Seventy-nine percent have switched providers in the past year due to poor customer service.

  • In South Africa, the estimated cost of customers switching due to poor service is R625 billion.

Human interaction is vital to customer satisfaction:

  • Seventy-seven percent of South African consumers prefer dealing with human beings for advice.

  • Fifty-six percent are willing to pay more for better customer service.

  • Sixty-six percent agree in-store service is the best channel for tailored experiences.

Room for improvement in customer services delivery:

  • Seventy-four percent expect customer service to be easier and more convenient; 79 percent, faster.

  • Having switched, 64 percent of consumers will not go back.

  • Eighty-nine percent of “switchers” feel the company could have done something to retain them—79 percent said better live or in-person customer service would have impacted their decision.

Geographic Findings

Find out how other countries rank in the eleventh annual Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Survey.

Profitable Customers

The most profitable customers navigate multiple paths to get the outcomes they want. To catch and keep those consumers, companies need to offer digital and traditional interactions that customers value, appreciate and can’t do without.


Digital Tipping Point

To optimise their growth potential and deliver the experiences customers demand, companies need to balance their digital exuberance with a human touch. What’s needed is a strategic mix of digital and non-digital options that allow customers to engage with providers in multiple highly satisfying ways.


Fast and Fickle

Intensely digital customers are also intensely impatient. They're also not as wedded to digital experiences as we would like to believe. To keep this fickle and fast-moving group engaged, companies simply can't give them a reason to leave. That means they need to focus less on luring customers with digital marketing and sales and more on dazzling them with superior service across all channels of interaction.


Customer Engagement


To re-balance digital and traditional customer service channels, companies should:

  1. Put the human and physical elements back into customer services by rethinking investment strategies to focus on delivering satisfying, integrated customer experiences across all channels.

  2. Make it easy for customers to fluidly move from digital to human interactions to get the experiences they want.

  3. Identify the customer experiences that have the greatest potential downside and leverage those insights to guide investment strategies.

  4. Guarantee personal data security so that customers will be more willing to hand over personal information which can be leveraged to deliver better experiences.



Joost de Haas

Joost de Haas
Managing Director – Accenture Strategy
Sub-Saharan Africa

Joost focuses on helping senior executives drive better strategic outcomes by advising organisations on business strategy, digital strategies, post-merger integration, operating model development and cost competitiveness. Through his 20 years of consulting experience, he has worked with many organisations, helping them transform to become high performers. He is currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Mail to Joost de Haas. This opens a new window. Linkedin


Dr. Dunja Kartte
Senior Manager – Accenture Strategy
Accenture in South Africa

Dr. Dunja Kartte is a Senior Manager within Accenture Strategy and value-creation expert linking business strategy with functional Marketing, Customer, and Sales excellence and execution capability in order to enable growth aspirations for her clients. She has over 15 years of cross-industry experience—both in emerging and developed markets. Dunja completed her doctoral studies/Ph.D. in Business Management summa cum laude (with distinction) at the University of Klagenfurt, Austria and holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Mainz, Germany. She is a MBA supervisor at South Africa’s leading business school GIBS since 2010.

Mail to Dr. Dunja Kartte. This opens a new window. Linkedin