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E-tailers Waking Up To Customer Service Needs

By Rob Spiegel
Oct 19, 1999 12:00 AM PT

According to a survey released by online research service E-BuyersGuide.com, the majority of e-tailers acknowledge the importance of customer satisfaction with the purchasing process.

E-tailers Waking Up To Customer Service Needs

The report also showed that, as consumer sites struggle to attract and retain customers, 49 percent of e-tailers surveyed said that they plan to spend significantly more to improve their customer service over the next year. Earlier 1999 studies showed that upwards of 60 percent of consumer transactions were abandoned mid-purchase

"We conducted this survey because we see an increasing need for e-commerce retailers to pay some attention and spend some money to be in the face of their customers," said E-BuyersGuide.com company president Mary Helen Gillespie in an interview with E-Commerce Times.

"With the emergence of the brand-name brick-and-mortars online, customers are really expecting to receive the same level of customer service online as they receive offline," added Gillespie

E-tailers Conducting Their Own Research

47 percent of the e-tailers surveyed said that they conduct their own research on customer satisfaction through Web site surveys and data mining. Twenty percent of e-tailers said they find data collected by a third-party most reflective of a consumer's true experiences and buying plans, and 12 percent responded that they enlist third parties to collect this data.

Among the e-tailers, customer service is now considered more critical than product quality. 39 percent ranked "site experience" above "product experience" (29 percent) when it came to the important qualities of customer satisfaction.

Earlier research released by E-BuyersGuide.com last month indicated that 9 percent of consumers were not satisfied with online customer service, 10 percent of products were not even in stock, and 13 percent of consumers would not revisit the e-commerce sites where they had shopped online.

Planning For Improvements

A full 80 percent of e-tailers feel that they need to improve online customer satisfaction. 31 percent said that they will likely commit over 5 percent of their market research dollars to have 24/7 access to real-time information on customer experience on their Web sites.

"E-com companies know that the 1999 holiday shopping season will be critical for online merchants," said Gillespie. "They know their customers are more sophisticated about shopping on the Net."

About E-BuyersGuide.com

Based in Burlington, Massachusetts, E-BuyersGuide.com is a market research company that makes e-shopping data available to e-commerce and other companies in an effort to establish industry benchmarks for online customer service.

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