Online companies are hiding contact info - and harming customersby
Research has revealed that online businesses are taking a leaf out of Amazon's book - hiding or omitting customer contact information. But this is also causing significant harm to customers’ financial and mental wellbeing.
A study of 50 of the UK’s most popular online-only brands has revealed that many etailers are hiding or omitting important contact information such as phone numbers.
Conducted by MaxContact, the report analysed the contact options available on the companies’ websites, with the findings highlighting just how difficult it is to get in touch with many of these businesses.
The report revealed that almost three quarters (72%) of the companies did not have a phone number anywhere on their website, with almost half (45%) not even offering a ‘contact us’ link on the homepage.
Etailing giant Amazon has, of course, gained notoriety for hiding its own contact phone numbers, preferring to funnel customers towards web forms instead. But this behaviour is increasingly commonplace, with huge brands such as Trainline, ASOS, Just Eat and Skyscanner amongst those highlighted in the new report.
The research goes on to outline that even for those companies that do provide contact information, the majority of customers (60%) still have to trawl through FAQs or the help section of the website in order to find it, with 35% only supplying this if you log in to your account.
72% of companies do not have a phone number anywhere on their websites.
Unsurprisingly, the inability to quickly and easily find a company’s contact details is causing customers to shun these businesses.
Along with the analysis of the companies’ contact offerings, the report also commissioned an independent survey of 2,000 UK customers, with the results revealing that 18% had abandoned a purchase or switched to another brand because they couldn’t get an answer quickly.
Moreover, 40% of customers admitted to having to cut back on spending because they struggled to contact an online-only company, with delays in reclaiming money from a refund being one of the more popular examples listed.
But this isn’t just a problem impacting the businesses’ bottom lines, it is also a growing concern for customer wellbeing.
During these financially uncertain times that have seen grocery price inflation hit a record high, and UK consumers having to cut back on daily essentials (41%) and energy use (38%), the ‘uncontactability’ of these online-only brands is an unwelcome added stress and frustration.
This is borne out in the findings of the customer survey, which revealed that over a third (38%) of consumers said that poor service had caused them anxiety or serious stress.
With the current economic climate showing no signs of improving in the immediate future, it is essential that companies start taking direct action to provide more navigable contact solutions for the good of both themselves and their customers.
As Ben Booth, CEO of MaxContact, puts it: “With finances tighter than ever, customers are looking for the companies they deal with to support them however they can. Yet a lack of contact options or poor service is hurting customer relationships when retention is a top business priority.
“There’s no one size fits all solution. Sometimes a phone call is absolutely the right way to best help customers – especially when dealing with complex or sensitive cases such as a refund dispute or financial problem.
“A helpful and knowledgeable agent will reassure customers that their issue is in good hands. But for simple, quick queries, phone calls can be laborious, and customers prefer webchat or email to get quick answers to a question without waiting on hold.”