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Online channels focused on selling rather than service

27th Sep 2010
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Too many brands are still simply employing online channels to sell products and services rather than using them to provide an effective customer experience.

According to research undertaken among 1,000 UK consumers, 48% believe that organisations fail to meet their expectations when they are trying to resolve problems or find information online, while 49% feel that they are not listened to when providing feedback.

Some 43% say they do less business with such brands as a result, while 36% stop transacting with them altogether. The survey was commissioned by RightNow Technologies in the run up to the Institute of Customer Service’s National Customer Service Week at the start of October.

Duncan Baker, the ICS’ director of communications, said: "You need to deliver an effective customer experience everywhere you touch the customer and the customer touches you, whether that’s in-store, via mobile devices, email or social media sites. While brands understand the principle, many are still looking at online as a channel for delivering products and services but not as a repository for the whole customer experience."

In recognition of the importance of managing this entire experience, however, some brands were starting to merge their customer service units with their marketing departments in order to break down silos and deal with the issue on "one continuum", he added.

The survey also revealed, however, that compared with only a couple of years ago, consumers increasingly prefer to search for information about purchases or their account on a brand’s web site (34%) than send an email (26%) or ring a call centre agent (25%).

Joe Brown, RightNow’s general manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said: "Normal behaviour now is to try and do it yourself first because consumers can have problems getting hold of the right person or find that the knowledge of a call centre agent is less than what is available online. Generally speaking, interaction with the call centre seems to be more frustrating and troublesome."

This situation, he believes, is less of a staff training issue and more of a business strategy one of failing to make the necessary information available to agents from across all channels.


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