It Should be a No-Brainer: Online Customers Want Better Experiences

Is it “Amazon or bust?” It certainly has been for a number of businesses.

The online shopping trend has been cannibalizing the sales of brick-and-mortar stores for quite some time now, as the last decade has seen major retailers such as Borders and Circuit City fold under competition from online retailers, even as others (Best Buy, for one) struggle to reinvent themselves in a “brave new world.”

This article originally appeared on the LiveLOOK blog, and is reprinted with permission.

Shopping at physical storefronts is still the primary way that consumers browse for and buy goods from their favorite brands, but they like the ability the Internet affords them to do extensive research about specific items and choose from wider selections of inventory. There’s only so much shelf space, and not many employees on the sales floor have in-depth knowledge of all the products they sell, if they can even help you locate everything.

Even with these seemingly baked-in opportunities awaiting online retailers, there are still some fumbles going on in the customer experience.

Online shoppers struggle regularly

While retailers aim to make their websites easy for consumers to navigate and buy items, more people encounter problems with ecommerce processes than decision-makers may think.

Eighty-three percent of customers require brands to guide them through their online purchases, according to Business 2 Community and Invesp. In addition, 89 percent of shoppers have left retail websites due to poor customer service, suggesting that companies’ support strategies must be finely tuned for success the digital age.

Customers have high expectations for ecommerce support platforms, which don’t always deliver. Thirty-one percent of customers with questions or concerns want to be helped immediately when they log on, while 40 percent expect to be in contact with a representative within five minutes.

Brands need to make themselves constantly available to meet consumer demands. Customers who experience poor service are reportedly twice as like to tell others about a business’ shortcomings than those who enjoyed their interactions.

Related article: Online Retailers Strive to Overcome Integration Challenges

Today’s customers want it all – and now

Not only do consumers in the digital era expect their questions to be answered quickly and accurately, but there is also a growing demand for integrated services across a range of platforms.

While 61 percent of consumers still turned to call handling as their primary channel of communication with companies, newer platforms are quickly catching up with this standby. Customer support email was chosen by 61 percent of shoppers as their preferred method, while 57 percent found live chat to be the most helpful.

The data speaks for itself: Online retailers must adopt the latest customer service technology as they can’t afford to miss out on opportunities and fall behind their competitors.

Most customers have an idea of what they expect from brands with regard to ecommerce support, but what is the most important component of service today?

Eighty-two percent of survey respondents cited quick issue resolution as the top element of a great customer experience, while 56 percent thought that resolving the problem in one interaction was the most vital component.

In addition to answering speed and efficiency, companies should work on keeping their customer-facing staff engaged and enthusiastic, as 45 percent of respondents said that friendly service reps were a crucial part of any memorable support experience.

Brands must hone their craft

With such a diverse array of consumer expectations facing brands today, it can be overwhelming for decision-makers to figure out where their support strategies are lacking, which is why BizCommunity suggested that managers seek feedback from both their target audiences and service representatives.

With a better idea of a brand’s strengths and weaknesses regarding the customer experience, leaders can make a more directed effort at improving aspects of their support that lag behind.

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