Do retailers deliver customer service better online?

Chris Ward
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With the UK’s local town centres experiencing a 1.2% drop in visitor numbers in January 2015 compared with a year ago, the debate about how high street shops can continue to attract visitors is being hotly contested once again.

While experts at the recent Future High Street Summit suggested retailers needed to focus on how they deliver collaborative experiences, leisure pursuits and technology to continue to attract visitors, consumers themselves still regularly reference customer service in industry surveys as the unique selling point for visiting bricks-and-mortar stores, rather than shopping online.

However, new research commissioned by Dyn has revealed that, even with the consumer expectations around customer service provided in person, two-thirds of retailer now believe their customers receive the best service online (either website, mobile or app), compared to 25% of retailers who say their best customer service comes from in-store.

And despite a growing interest in joining the high street from large-scale pure-play ecommerce providers including Google and Amazon, the research also states that around 75% of retailers are more optimistic about delivering their products and future service via ecommerce platforms.

96% of retailers expect at least a 25% increase in online sales this year – and half expect online sales will increase by 50%.    

Paul Heywood, managing director of EMEA for Dyn believes that retailers’ customer service capabilities are simply mirroring consumer shopping trends, which are leaning considerably on the side of ecommerce, despite the preference over the experience delivered in physical stores.

“Online and mobile shopping is on-the-rise in the UK, providing online retailers with a tremendous opportunity to grow their revenue and global footprint…The research shows that perception among retailers is, in many cases, aligned with what consumers are expecting and experiencing when shopping online and on mobile devices.

“Perhaps the biggest challenge: most retailers don’t have a clear understanding of exactly what’s getting in the way of delivering the fast, easy and secure online and mobile shopping experiences that consumers have come to expect.”

As well as the customer service element, research from December 2014 found that almost half of consumers (45%) prefer to shop in bricks-and-mortar stores because they often fail to find what they’re looking for quickly enough online.

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09th Apr 2015 13:38

Retailers may believe they are offering their best service online, but our own research found that performance can be patchy. Despite their investment in digital channels, according to the study retailers could only answer 55% of questions asked via the email, Twitter and web channels. One responded to an email in 9 minutes – and another took over 30 days. More on the growing gulf in this blog post http://www.eptica.com/blog/evaluating-2015-uk-retail-customer-experience

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13th Apr 2015 17:14

Thanks Lloyd. 

Speed of response is definitely a critical factor that requires more commitment from brands - especially on social media where immediacy is part of the supposition. Email appears to be a channel that has been addressed - customer service response times via email have been halved in the UK over the last year. More of an understanding of why this has now got so much focus from customer service teams is something we're looking into as a result.   

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