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Online customer service worsens for fourth year running

13th Apr 2005
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Online customer service is getting worse as organisations’ willingness to respond to their customers’ email enquiries promptly continues to dwindle, according to a survey by Hornstein Associates.

The findings of the US-based marketing consultancy’s annual study indicated a decline for the fourth year running in email response rates. Of the 38 companies and government bodies questioned, only 42 per cent said that they responded to customer service emails within 24 hours, down from a high of 63 per cent in 2002.

To make matters worse, however, a huge 36 per cent of respondents didn’t even bother to reply to customers at all.

Scott Hornstein, the principal at Hornstein Associates, said: "Short-term, customers without answers go away as do their sales. Marketers are eroding trust and respect among customers, which translates into lost long-term revenue potential."

But the situation also indicated that, although awareness of the mechanics of customer relationship marketing may have increased in organisations, the impetus to implement an effective customer fulfilment strategy has not.

This is despite the fact that "the benefits of CRM are largely internal to the organisation, while the benefits of customer fulfilment go to customers."

As a result, the conclusion is that that "corporations’ willingness to respond to the individual customer is receding", even though most customers expect an email reply within 24 hours.

Those organisations taking part in the survey included IBM, Dell, Apple, and American Airlines.

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