Study Highlights Importance of Web-based Customers
March 05, 2008
Organizations throughout the world have turned to multi-channel communication with their customers. Whether this communication is in the form of contact center channels, or selling channels, the idea is to improve communication options and thereby drive increased sales. It should be considered part of the total customer service package.
The Service Excellence Research Group, LLC, recently announced the publication of a new study focusing on the current state of online shopping and customer service. Influencing the Online Experience provides insight into consumers’ expectations for their online interactions and common areas where organizations tend to fall short in satisfying those consumers.
"In our effort to encourage customers to serve themselves, organizations have removed the human factor from the on-line experience. The onus for delivering a positive experience now lies with the tools and content offered, and their relevance in helping customers achieve their objectives,” said Tom Sweeny, Principal and Co-founder, ServiceXRG, in a statement.
Sweeny continued: “With competitors just a Google search away, consumers must have easily accessible, quality information at their fingertips. Businesses can no longer ignore poor online customer service, as the Web is shaping up to be the critical battleground for organizations to maintain a competitive edge."
The study thoroughly examined the entire customer service lifecycle across multiple vertical markets. By surveying nearly 1,000 companies and online shoppers, ServiceXRG sought to determine how consumers use search for online support, conduct product research and engage in shopping activities.
Looking at the other side of the business, the study also explored the investments, tools and resources the “supply side” provides to encourage Web use, drive successful online transactions and deliver a positive customer experience.
ServiceXRG found that content quality and the ability to access it are overwhelmingly top concerns for both companies and consumers. In fact, 74.5 percent of consumers reported use of a company’s website to get information about a product or service, yet only 44 percent of those surveyed felt that the information met their needs.
From the business standpoint, 97 percent of companies plan to make future investments to enhance the customer’s ability to find the service information they need, with content enhancements topping the list.
The results of this study also indicated that customers that have a positive experience are three times more likely than those that has a neutral or negative experience to buy a product from the company that delivered the experience; four times more likely to recommend a company or renew an existing relationship; and five times more likely to report that they are satisfied.
The online shopping experience is part of the total customer experience and can no longer be viewed as an area where a superior experience is optional. It must now be considered a necessity for creating and sustaining customer loyalty and achieving market differentiation.
"This study should serve as a call-to-action for organizations," said Mike Murphy, CEO of InQuira, in a statement. "The average consumer expects a superior online experience, but as this study demonstrates, his needs are not being met.”
“Creating a great customer experience depends on good information, the ability to easily find it, and technology to support the entire customer experience lifecycle. This study will serve as a valuable resource for organizations looking to utilize customer experience best practices," Murphy added.
It is important to note that the content presented online is directly linked to the amount of action required by the contact center. For those organizations that have provided superior information and quality experiences online, the cost association per use is minimal and contact centers need not get involved.
For those that provide just minimal information and service, more demands are put on the contact center, which will result in higher costs for the company and a less than optimal experience for the customer.
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Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for ContactCenterSolutions and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.