Customers who experience problems when conducting transactions online
are sharing these experiences on social media sites; 13% this year compared with 8% in 2008.

This is one of the findings of a Tealeaf survey of online customer behaviour, and provides another reminder that online retailers need to focus on customer experience, especially as 74% of
online adults said negative comments read online have an influence on whether they will do business with a company.

The report finds that many companies need to improve both their website performance, as well as the quality of their responses to customer problems and complaints.

Companies risk both the loss of sales, as well as the prospect of negative comments being left on social media sites for other potential customers to read.

Website issues

  • Many of the problems encountered by customers trying to make purchases are things which could be solved by retailers, such as error messages, confusing navigation, insufficient or incorrect information, or login problems.
  • There has been an improvement when compared to last year’s survey; 77% said they had experienced a problem during a transaction this year, compared with 89% in 2008.

Customer responses to problems

  • People are contacting retailers directly less often than last year, with just 25% posting a complaint on a company’s website, and 35% phoning a call centre, down from 29% and 42% respectively.
  • Almost as many (48%) will share their experience with friends and family to discourage them from using that website or company.

Influence of social media

  • The significance of social media is underlined in this survey, with 51% of respondents saying that social media has influenced their online transactions.
  • 75% said their choice of retailer was influenced by what they read on social media sites, while 56% avoided a particular company after reading a bad review. The reverse can also apply though, with 52% declaring that they chose a particular retailer after reading good reviews. 

Customer service

  • The survey results suggest that there is much room for improvement in customer service, with customers who actually contacted companies failing to have their issues resolved.
  • 51% said their problem was not resolved, while 77% said the agent was neither knowledgeable about their particular query or about the website itself. Failure to resolve problems when customers make the effort to get in touch is not only poor service, but also increases the likelihood that customers will pass on the details of this experience to others.