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Consumer Satisfaction Way Down In Store and Online

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Superior customer experience and service is the backbone of a successful business, especially for retail.

70% of consumers say they are willing to spend more with companies that provide excellent customer service, according to American Express, while 91% of disgruntled customers say they will shop elsewhere going forward. Amex also found that 90% of U.S. consumers share their good and bad experiences.

In this competitive market, retailers consequently need to focus on the experience they offer their customers, across all channels, and to be continually improving the service they provide if they are to retain them.

Research released by Eptica (2015 Eptica Retail Holiday Customer Experience Study and Retail Multichannel Study) shows how most U.S. shoppers are dissatisfied with retail customer service. The studies evaluated 500 retailers spread across 15 sectors, and surveyed 1,000 shoppers.

According to the study done during the end of November, the majority of consumers made purchases online (63%), or in store (56%), but 37% of U.S. shoppers are unhappy with the online experience. That figure rises to 40% in store. 18% of consumers complained that it was impossible or extremely difficult to find information they wanted on retailers’ websites. 49% are unhappy with the experience when buying from a retailer on their smartphone when in the store. The good news is that 23% bought from the website of the retailer they were in, but one fifth (20%) purchased from a rival.

With mobile research and purchases becoming a way of life, this further emphasizes that show-rooming is very much alive and growing, with more customers using their smartphones in store to make purchases. Considering the above statistics, it also shows the importance of retailers being able to provide customers the right information at the right time so they can go through the steps of the buying process quickly on whatever channel they’re using.

The Eptica research also indicated that shoppers are taking a more measured and balanced approach to holiday shopping. 24% made purchases online on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but 37% hadn’t bought anything before the end of November. In fact, 21% said they hadn’t even started their holiday shopping, with a further 14% completing less than a quarter of their planned purchases. Another statistic showed that 1 in 10 shoppers had finished their shopping, with more than 20% having completed their purchases over three quarters of 2015.

They study notes that another consideration retailers must focus on is social media, which is the fastest-growing channel for customer service, due to its ease of use and widespread adoption. But because social media activities are often run by multiple departments (marketing, sales, customer service), each with different aims, retailers need to make sure these teams work together to see the big picture, if they are to avoid unanswered messages or inaccurate information being given.

Overall, it boils down to a deep divide between the best and worst retailers. Where some provide exceptional service, converting foot traffic into sales and even upselling, others leave customers at their wits’ end, frustrated by unanswered questions and poor service, and those customers are not likely to buy from them again.

It also speaks to the changing nature of the shopping process – retailers can’t rely and focus on seasonal peaks. They need to have their infrastructure and technology in place to meet those customer service requirements that go beyond the holidays.

TAGS: retail trends, customer service, retail,
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