Two recent surveys by Jupiter Media Metrix found customer response rates lagging amongst online retailers.
"The implications of unsatisfying online service remain particularly harsh," noted Jupiter senior analyst David Daniels, having scrutinized the results of two topical surveys. "Retailers would do well to scrutinize their online customer service response times, contact center service levels and staffing resources."
According to Jupiter, dissatisfied customers generally aren't return customers. Jupiters November 2001 Consumer Survey revealed that 57 percent of the more than 2,100 consumers polled indicated that the speed of a retailer's response to an email inquiry would affect future decisions to purchase from the same merchant. Moreover, only 3 percent of the surveyed consumers stated that a dodgy online service track record would not affect their future purchases.
"Santa might be relaxing now, but retailers can't," admonished Daniels, noting that the post-holiday season was an ideal time for e-tailers to review the flaws in their online customer service levels.
During the 2001 Holiday season, Jupiter augmented their November study by closely analyzing the Web sites of 250 leading companies in the automobile, B2B, consumer packaged goods, finance, health, music, retail, and travel industries. The results were less than satisfying: only 30 percent of all retailers tracked resolved basic customer service requests online within six hours.
Jupiter, in their December Web Track survey, found that pure-play retailers performed the worst with over 40 percent taking more than 3 days to respond to e-mail enquiries - if at all. Brick-and-click retailers performed slightly better with only 28 percent failing to respond, or taking longer than 3 days.
The seasons dreary online customer service performances were attributed to the dearth of email automation systems amongst online retailers. "It's time for retailers to focus on the basics and invest in critical email customer service automation systems," advised Daniels, noting that only 43 percent of Web sites had such systems currently in place.
Rather than try to appease disgruntled customers with discounts, Jupiter advised that e-tailers take action to improve their customer service levels - explaining to customers the changes they are implementing to improve service. Jupiter furthermore advised that e-tailers invite customers to help improve service by using Web-based surveys to collect customer feedback and capture individual preferences.
Customer interaction records and historical response time data can also be collected and used in compiling profiles of customers that have had a shoddy online shopping experience. This type of information, advised Daniels, can later be used in personalized marketing campaigns targeted specifically at disgruntled customers.
Reprinted from sa.internet.com