Consumer electronics companies deliver shocking web customer service

Cambridge, UK, 9 November, 2006: Record numbers of online shoppers looking for the best electronics and gadget buys are being let down by inadequate information and customer service provided online, according to the latest website customer service study from eService provider Transversal ( Nearly three quarters (70 per cent) of routine customer service and product questions are not being answered on leading consumer electronic websites.

Digital TVs, games consoles, GPS units, cameras and DVD players top the Christmas shopping lists and consumer electronics sales have already reached a record £16.8 billion . The web is used as a primary research tool by the majority of consumers even if the final purchase isn’t made online. The inability to get fast, accurate information online will lose sales to competitors and increase costs as frustrated gadget buyers call or email contact centres.

Questions that failed to elicit an answer included; “What should I do if my unit requires service or repair?” making UK companies appear unconcerned with the fate of products and customers after a transaction has been made.

The frustration continues for customers forced to refer to other channels for information. On average, it took 35 hours for the ten consumer electronics manufacturers surveyed to respond to a simple email. One company took six days to respond to a query and then failed to answer the question. This would result in last minute Christmas shoppers not getting answers until well into the New Year. In addition, a fifth of companies shot themselves in the foot by refusing to answer questions from new customers, therefore, losing themselves potential Christmas sales.

“Considering the huge sums of money that UK consumers are spending on gadgets it’s a disgrace that they cannot get fast answers to even the most simple questions,” said Davin Yap, CEO, Transversal. “With consumer electronics top of many Christmas lists, manufacturers need to take heed of this research or risk customers voting with their feet and buying from competitors.”

The research also revealed a startling inconsistency between different websites as many companies are able to respond quickly to email, but the sector is let down by sites which comprehensively fail the inquisitive consumer. Additionally, while many consumer electronics companies have invested in Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) pages and customer search facilities, they are simply not providing the answers that consumers are looking for.

The research was part of Transversal’s annual survey of 100 leading organisations in the retail, banking, insurance, consumer electronics, utility and telecoms sectors. It aimed to measure online customer service by searching for answers to common sector-specific questions, both on websites and via email.

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Chris Measures/Elke Panzner +44 (0) 20 7494 6570

About Transversal
Transversal is a Cambridge-based developer of intelligent eCustomer service software that enables organisations to achieve key sales, customer service and efficiency goals. Transversal's flagship service, Metafaq, enables organisations to increase online sales and reduce the volume of call and email queries to contact centres by automatically answering customers' questions online. Transversal customers will typically see immediate and dramatic email reductions, by around 60%, and improvements in email response times, from days to minutes. Intrafaq, Transversal's knowledge management solution for contact centres, delivers information to agents in a unique way from a dynamic natural language knowledgebase. Simply by typing a question, in their own words, agents can access answers to customer questions; providing fast, accurate and consistent responses. Organisations benefit from increased first call resolution and efficiency by improving the knowledge and quality of service provided by customer service and help-desk agents. Transversal's Memory Engine™ is the result of research and development by top researchers in Information Theory and Machine Learning from Caltech and Cambridge universities. Transversal co-founder, Prof. David MacKay, is a world-renowned expert in Artificial Intelligence. He pioneered Bayesian Neural Networks in the late 1980s and remains at the forefront of the field. Current customers include Sony, Direct Line, Thomsons, MFI, Barclays, Nissan, Fujifilm, Standard Life, Freemans, Grattans, Look Again, Kaleidoscope and the Metropolitan Police.

Published on: 12:00AM on 9th November 2006