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Retail Technology, Retail technology News

Customers face online service black hole

Tuesday June 21 2011

Less than half of websites and email channels able to answer basic customer service questions, according to latest survey from Eptica

Less than half of websites and email channels able to answer basic customer service questions, according to latest survey from Eptica


A new report, The 2011 Eptica UK Multichannel Customer Service Study, has laid bare the gulf in customer service support that UK consumers face when buying online.


The report reveals a worrying email black hole, with less than half of companies (48%) correctly answering questions posed over email, 47% not acknowledging receipt of the email and one in four (27%) failing to respond at all.


The in-depth study by the multichannel customer interaction management software provider looked at how customer service performance was faring at 100 leading UK organisations with regard to their ability to answer simple routine questions via email, their website and whether they had integrated their customer service with social media. With websites only able to provide the answer to 50% of enquiries on average, consumers are being forced to contact companies via email, but this by no means guarantees a better service.


Customer contact poor across the board


The time it took to respond to emails varied massively, with the longest answer taking five days (120 hours), and the average time taking 20 hours and 41 minutes. Interestingly, only 28% of companies were able to provide responses within their own specified timeframes – a move that breeds distrust and frustration for the consumer. However, receiving a fast and accurate response was proved possible, with one company responding with useful information in a blistering three minutes.


Eptica conducted its survey across the insurance, travel, CD/DVD/book retail, food retail, electronics retail, consumer electronics manufacturers, utilities, fashion retail, telecoms and banking sectors. And it evaluated in three areas: the ability to answer ten basic, sector-specific questions via their website; the speed and accuracy of their responses via their email channel; and integration links to sites such as Facebook, Twitter and forums into their overall customer service strategy.


Dee Roche, European marketing director at Eptica, commented: “This report signals a wake-up call for the industry. Customers don’t want to feel as if they’ve disappeared into a black hole where their voice is not being heard. Some of the findings, particularly in relation to the lack of responsiveness via email are unforgiveable. Damage to a brand, high customer churn and lost sales opportunities can all be avoided if the company develops an integrated and consistent approach to its online customer service.”