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Businesses that Focus Only on Phone Support Will Be Left in the Cold This Year

December 24, 2012

Attention all retailers! When a customer writes an email to your company, answer it!

Roughly $7.45 billion (£4.6 billion) was in jeopardy in the United Kingdom alone this Christmas shopping season from poor customer service, according to Mark King, vice president, Europe and Africa, for Aspect (News - Alert) Software. This should punctuate the need to respond to all communications channels when it comes to customer service. With evidence solidifying the rise in online retailing and Christmas spending expected to hit record amounts this year, it is extremely alarming that a large number of retailers are failing to respond to online queries,” noted King.

A detailed study carried out by multi-channel customer interaction management software provider Eptica found that only 48 percent of retailers could answer basic questions via email, as reported by the Cellcentre Helper blog, and only 53 percent could answer basic questions online.

Researchers were unable to email nearly a quarter of the companies in the study, as they either had removed the opportunity for non-customers to contact them through this channel or email addresses could not be easily found, according to the Eptica web site.

Of those retailers that did respond, it took roughly three days to get a response, an astounding 44 hours longer than it did in a similar 2011 study.

“Response times varied greatly – two companies successfully answered email questions in a superfast 19 minutes, but another took one month to reply,” wrote Eptica on its web site. “Overall, every one of the ten sectors surveyed answered emails slower on average than in 2011.”

King at Aspect Software, at least, was shocked by the findings.

“We’ve seen the struggle retailers have had with the high street, but failing to perform and bring in the all important ‘big bucks’ during the golden quarter can cement a retailer’s fate in the wrong direction,” he said. “The retail sector is notoriously competitive and not only does the service delivered affect the success of a retailer, but so does the festive season.”

Consumers are not content with only having phone support these days. As consumers get increasingly used to texting their friends and emailing colleagues at work instead of picking up the phone, this behavior is spilling over into interaction with retailers. Instead of waiting on hold, an increasing number of consumers would rather dash off a quick email.

This means retailers need to be ready for email and similar methods of communication. Retailers that have implemented a strong communications strategy and integrated channels possess a real advantage over their competitors, and pleasing customers this Christmas is absolutely vital,” noted King.

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Edited by Peter Bernstein

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