New research has shown that online companies need to dramatically improve their customer service and offer more help to customers on their sites. Telecoms providers came off worst in the survey, with banking websites the best performers.

The survey, by eService provider Transversal, has revealed that customers often face waits of up to 2-3 days for their emails to be answered, a situation which is exacerbated by the lack of online help offered by some websites. Some 60% of customer emails are generated by the lack of available information on websites.

The report gives a damning verdict on telecoms providers’ customer service performance, with their websites receiving lower scores for usability than in last year’s survey.

Surprisingly, only a third of companies provide an online customer search function, down from 70% in 2005. In addition to this, 10% of telecoms suppliers have actually removed their FAQ section. 

According to the research, telecoms companies could only answer an average of one in ten customer queries on common issues such as tariffs, phone upgrades and special offers. Banking websites performed better in this category, but their score of 3 out of 10 suggests there is room for improvement. 

Transversal CEO Davin Yap said: “Telecoms providers are in the business of enabling communication, yet they can’t, or won’t, communicate with their customers properly, the sector is lagging way behind on technology that would improve online service and turn frustration into a positive, interactive customer experience.”

E-consultancy’s own research has shown the importance of good online customer service; 80% of customers are less likely to return to a site after a bad online experience, and such experiences have a knock on effect on how customers view the company in general.

Given the growth in online business in the past five years, some companies’ lack of understanding of the market is surprising.

Lack of available and relevant information on websites puts more pressure on contact centres, as customers are forced to pursue their queries by phone or email.
The full report can be viewed at: http://www.transversal.com/html/downloads/index.php

Related E-consultancy research:
Online Customer Service Solutions – A Buyer’s Guide
Online Customer Service – Roundtable Briefing