Here’s a really radical idea: live humans to help customers at web sites.
In a bid to reduce the number of customers who abandon online shopping carts loaded with merchandise, the Wall St. Journal reports that Web merchants are thinking, duh, that they have to do something better about customer service.
“We see it as a service we are providing to customers, like a personal shopper at Nordstrom,” says Tad Martin, vice president of merchandising and operations at Salt Lake City-based Overstock.com. Yeah, you know, like a perk.
A December study of Web sites conducted by Jupiter Research, a unit of Jupitermedia Corp. of Darien, Conn., found that 36% of the 224 sites that received test e-mails took longer than three days to reply or did not respond at all. A fourth-quarter study of 100 Web sites by E-tailing Group, a Chicago-based consulting firm, found the average wait time to chat online with a customer-service representative was 12.2 minutes, up from 4.8 minutes in the year-earlier period.
Jupiter’s research shows that 59% of consumers said they would not purchase from a company again if they were dissatisfied with their customer-service experience.
The article notes that a customer service call costs about $8 per incident, but less than $2 per incident when email, live chat and self help are used.