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Why Phone Customer Service Matters to Online Retailers

November 6, 2012 By Erica Bell
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E-commerce's growth has been well documented. With competition over pricing and public awareness, having excellent customer service can set your e-commerce site apart from your competition. While online retailers may get customer service questions via email, consumers still prefer to pick up the phone to ask questions. Whether you choose to keep your customer service team in-house, use call-center software or outsource, make sure those on the phone understand service is the top priority.

The Numbers
You may be more focused on fast response times via email than voicemail, but paying attention to your phone calls is equally important. There are a number of studies that show how impactful good and poor customer service can be. Improving customer service often means an increase in new customers, customer loyalty and overall sales. Consider the following:

  • 89 percent of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience (RightNow);
  • 90 percent of U.S. consumers prefer to resolve their customer service issues via telephone (American Express);
  • poor customer experiences result in an estimated $83 billion loss by U.S. enterprises each year because of defections and abandoned purchases (Parature);
  • 50 percent of consumers give a brand only one week to respond to a question before they stop doing business with it (RightNow);
  • the industries with the lowest percentage of calls that are complaints are entertainment/leisure (1.7 percent) and manufacturing (2 percent) (The US Contact Center); and
  • 71 percent of survey respondents were "tremendously annoyed" when they couldn't reach a human on the phone (Better Business Bureau).

How to Improve
Customer service is about providing the right answer to questions quickly. It also means providing recommendations, both when products are out of stock or a customer is making an over-the-phone purchase. If you think your website and customer service reps (CSRs) may not be up to par, here are a few tips to improve your company's phone customer service:

 

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