Many UK companies are shooting themselves in the foot by not responding to email queries from customers quickly enough, while some are ignoring them altogether, according to research from eGain.

Staff at eGain sent emails to various UK firms in December last year, requesting information on high value products and services through web forms or email addresses on company websites.

125 major UK companies were tested on response times, as well as the quality of the information they gave back.

  • Only 36% responded to customer emails within 24 hours, and only 16% within one hour.
  • Just 19% of companies provided an accurate response to their customers’ queries, and only 18% sent an automatic acknowledgement in response to the customer’s email.
  • The retail sector was the best overall performer with a 70% response rate, though only 49% of these responses were of a good quality, and only 10% of retailers managed to respond within an hour.
  • Telco firms were the worst offenders, with 58% ignoring e-mails and 15% offering no e-mail facility on their website. Less than 15% of telco firms answered emails within an hour.

The research suggests many firms are throwing away potential revenues by not replying to customers, or not giving them a timely or relevant response.

It would be interesting to see if these figures change at other times of the year, as companies deal with as many as five times the normal volume of emails during the Christmas period.

The answer for many of these firms could be an investment in online customer service solutions, which can minimise the burden of email by automatically diverting emails to the appropriate member of staff, as well as easing the strain on call centres.

Further Reading:

E-consultancy’s Online Customer Service Solutions Buyers Guide

(new version due May 2007)