March 20, 2014 - Rachel Miller

Online customer service is missing the mark

Online customer service is missing the markMany online retailers are failing to provide shoppers with good enough customer support, according to research by [24]7.

According to the survey, 22% of shoppers say that a lack of customer support is the most frustrating aspect of shopping online. The biggest issue of all, however, was a lack of product information, with 53% saying this was most frustrating.

The survey of 2,000 UK consumers conducted by Leadership Factor also revealed that 24% were frustrated by online retailers who were not getting simple things right – such as not supplying easy-to-find customer service contact details. In addition, 16% said they were frustrated by the fact that customer service issues took too long to resolve.

Previous research by [24]7 has shown that one in two consumers begins their customer service interactions with a phone call, suggesting that a failure to provide customer service contact details could be damaging for online retailers.

[24]7's Christopher Schyma said: "A failure to provide customer service assistance when there is evidence that customers want to make contact can result in lost online sales, but there are also long-term brand implications. Such issues play a major role in the overall customer experience."

The report also revealed that online shoppers see social media as a customer service "last resort", with only 11% of respondents saying they used social media for customer service interaction. This does rise significantly with younger online shoppers though – social media is used for customer service by 16% of 18–24 year olds and 20% of 25–34 year olds.

However, 47% of respondents said they would rather an issue was resolved in private as opposed to complaining about bad service from an online retailer via social media.

"People are increasingly using several channels at once and even switch channels during the interaction," said Schyma. "When they do this, they want to retain their context and history, so online retailers must provide omni-channel service that mirrors the way that consumers interact today – interchanging between the phone, mobile apps, web and social media."

Amazon was voted the best UK online retailer for customer service. John Lewis came second in the poll, followed by Argos, Tesco and Marks & Spencer.

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