Survey: Most Online Merchants Focusing on Efficiency, Convenience and Customer-Centricity
The survey also found the presence of live help is increasing (32 percent vs. 29 percent ), and agents are answering questions correctly more often (87 percent vs. 75 percent). What's more, product related e-mails, sent to customer service, were mostly answered correctly (77 percent vs. 74 percent), and personalized responses (84 percent vs. 81 percent ) consistently outnumbered auto responses (16 percent vs. 19 percent).
The survey found that, in general, self-service tools are welcome when they work but can lead to frustration as, typically, the automated responses were too generic. It also took longer to receive e-mail replies this year versus last (an average of 31:23 hours/minutes vs. 23:47).
Hold times when customer service was called were longer as well, frequently more than one minute (39 percent vs. 18 percent). Perhaps this was influenced by the fact that the average length of these calls increased year over year to 4.10 minutes from 3.56 minutes.
The e-tailing group Checklist for Exemplary Online Customer Service
The e-tailing group also offers the following customer service checklist:
1. Clearly state toll-free/800 numbers on homepage as part of universal navigation.
2. Ensure inventory is accurate and displayed at both product page and shopping cart.
3. Allow for changes in the shopping cart once the checkout process is initiated - without losing all previously entered information.
4. Build in tools that facilitate positive customer service experiences (such as back-in-stock e-mails or express checkout).
5. Leverage technology (such as live chat or click-to-call) and ensure proper training that reinforces brand objectives.
6. Incorporate product knowledge in customer service training; moving beyond mere customer service issues.
7. Create a streamlined, easy way to reach an agent when making a phone inquiry (many of the recorded messages make customers jump through hoops to find an agent).