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Service failure affects one third of online consumers

Service failure affects one third of online consumers
Monday April 2 2012

e-tailers must adopt a proactive approach to customer contact, and enhance their live customer service support during off peak hours.

One third of UK online shoppers are experiencing problems when they shop online, this is according to a research project conducted by Aspect, and Microsoft platform solutions.
Conducted December 2011, the Aspect Online Shopping Service Experiences 2012 survey set out to explore the attitude, opinion and behaviour of consumers towards the service they experienced the last time they shopped online, both pre- and post-purchase.
The survey found that 33 per cent of online shoppers experienced problems during their last online shopping experience including ‘couldn't find an answer to a question’, 'insufficient product information' and ‘a slow website’.  For e-tailers the message from the research is clear – if an online shopper facing problems it stimulates them to search out alternatives.
“To ensure sites are ‘stickier’ and fewer issues arise during the purchasing process, e-tailers must consider investing in improved information, self-service (pre and post purchase), live help (voice and webchat) and outbound contact facilities,” said Mark King, Senior VP, Europe and Africa, Aspect. “They should also re-assess when and how they use different communications channels (email, phone, web chat etc.) to ensure that both their objectives, and those of their customers, are optimally met.”
Key findings:
• 10 per cent of online shoppers surveyed had to contact e-tailers post-purchase to return items, check on deliveries, or change orders, all of which are potentially avoidable zero value calls;
•  97 per cent of shoppers reported that they had abandoned online shopping baskets at some time, ranging from CDs to furniture. Shoppers cited a long list of reasons for abandonment from ‘unable to access live support’ to ‘delivery charges’ and ‘insufficient product information’.
• On a more positive note, 86 percent of shoppers said that they were ‘happy’ or ‘very happy’ with their last shopping experience; and when shoppers did have to contact e-tailers post-purchase, 94% were able to resolve their issue(s) on the first contact. 
While the survey paints a picture of an industry fast coming to terms with the needs of its customers it also highlights areas of concern, especially when it comes to  the high percentage of online shoppers that have abandoned shopping baskets, the large number of online shoppers who need to communicate with e-tailers post purchase, and a lack of live service support, especially at weekends and in the evenings.
Mark King continued: “Despite this, the cost of supplying an agent based channel for customers is costly and is unsustainable, and e-tailers must embrace multi-channel customer contact in the same way as they have embraced multi-channel retailing.”