Online retailers are failing to provide shoppers with the required customer support, according to research findings launched today by intuitive customer experience company 7. This was one of the main issues identified when people bought online, with 22 per cent saying a lack of customer support was most frustrating. A lack of product information was the biggest issue, with more than half, 53 per cent, saying this was most frustrating.
The survey of 2,000 UK consumers by Leadership Factor also revealed that 24 per cent were frustrated by online retailers who were not getting simple things right, such as not supplying obvious customer service contact details and more importantly, not offering support at the right time. 16 per cent were frustrated by their issue simply taking too long to be resolved.
With previous 7 research in another industry, showing one in two consumers begin their customer service interactions with a phone call, a failure to provide customer service contact details could be costly for online retailers. More so, customers expect companies to know their history and their intent, meaning leading edge retailers should predict when and why a customer needs support.
"A failure to provide customer service assistance when there is evidence that customers want to make contact, can result in lost online sales, but there are also long-term brand implications," said Christopher Schyma, vice president (EMEA), retail & consumer goods, 7. "Such issues play a major role in the overall customer experience and online retailers do not want to be known as the organisation that gets it wrong, as reputations can be made and lost so quickly now."
Online shoppers still see social media as a customer service 'last resort' though, with only 11 per cent of respondents saying they used social media for customer service interaction. This does rise significantly with younger online shoppers though – 16 per cent of 18 to 24 years use social media for customer service and 20 per cent of 25 to 34 year olds do so. Almost half, 47 per cent, said they would rather an issue was resolved in private as opposed to complaining about bad service from an online retailer via social media.
"People are increasingly using several channels at once and even switch channels during the interaction," continued Christopher Schyma. "When they do this, they want to retain their context and history, so online retailers must provide omnichannel service that mirrors the way that consumers interact today – interchanging between the phone, mobile apps, web and social media. What's more, companies need to be able to proactively predict what their customers need."
Amazon was voted the best UK online retailer for customer service, according to the 7 research. The online giant beat a host of high street brands but with the rest of the top five comprised of bricks and mortar retailers, it would seem traditional retailers are now offering a much improved online customer experience than previously.
- John Lewis
- Marks & Spencer
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