Customer Service Still a Struggle

Beth Cox

Updated · Jan 03, 2002

Both pure-play Internet retailers and brick-and-mortar merchants with online
operations struggled to keep up with customer service e-mails this holiday
season, according to data from an industry tracking firm.

In fact, only 30 percent of all retailers tracked resolved basic customer
service requests online within six hours, according to December figures from
the Jupiter Media Metrix Customer Service WebTrack study.

The figures, although not wonderful, actually are a slight improvement over
the third quarter's 27

Analysts at Jupiter are suggesting that retailers
concentrate on retaining customers acquired during the holiday season by
reaching out to those who bore the brunt of the slow responses.

“Santa might be relaxing now, but retailers can't,” said David Daniels,
Jupiter senior analyst. “The implications of unsatisfactory online service
remain particularly harsh. These are peak return and customer service weeks
… Retailers must scrutinize online customer service response times, contact
center service levels and staffing resources.”

Interestingly, the WebTrack data showed that while a greater percentage of
online-only retailers (33 percent) responded to customer service e-mails
within six hours than brick-and-mortar retailers (28 percent), the pure-plays
were less responsive overall.

Jupiter said that 40 percent of online-only retailers took more than three
days to respond or did not respond to e-mails at all, compared to 28 percent
of brick-and-mortar retailers in the same category.

A recent Jupiter Executive Survey found that only 43 percent of Web sites
have an e-mail automation system. “This in part explains this season's
lackluster online customer service performance,” Daniels said.

Jupiter's polls have found that a majority of consumers (57 percent) say that
the speed of a retailer's response to customer service e-mail inquiries would
affect their decision to make future purchases from the particular Web site.

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  • Beth Cox
    Beth Cox

    Beth Cox has been a well-known keynote speaker and author as well as a business and technology advisor. She helps companies improve their business performance, better utilize data, and understands the implications of new technologies, such as (AI)artificial intelligence, big data, blockchains and the Internet of Things.

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