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The expansion of digital channels and an increasingly crowded online marketplace are changing consumer spending habits and online behavior. And the more consumers spend online, both in time and money, the more demanding they become of the online customer experience. Consumers are very articulate when it comes to their online expectations, and they’re quick to abandon your site if your website experience and customer engagement strategy are not up to par.
A recent in-depth survey of nearly 6,000 consumers across the UK, US, Australia, Germany, France and Italy, paints a very clear picture of today's “ideal online experience". These consumers want more than just cheap shipping options and flashy websites – their priorities lie in getting immediate attention, quick resolution of issues, and multiple ways to connect with a brand to access customer assistance.
So, how do you ace the customer service experience? Consumers identified the top three factors:
1) Getting an issue resolved quickly was by far the most critical factor (82%).
2) Having the issue resolved in a single interaction is key (56%)
3) And it seems that a smile never goes out of style, because interacting with a friendly customer service agent (45%) is the third most important requirement for great customer service.
When a website doesn’t meet expectations, we know all too well that a consumer will quickly search for greener pastures in a competitive site. But while expectations are high, they seem relatively straightforward. What are the top reasons for abandonment? Lack of information about the product, service or delivery (56%) and unexpected delivery costs (70%) drive the most people away. Navigation difficulties (46%), wanting to ask a question and not finding the answer (37%) and difficulty in getting any help on the website (30%) are also sending customers to buy elsewhere. The key here seems to be to provide detailed information up front, while also providing easy access to answers and customer support.
It seems that more and more, we are becoming an “on-demand” generation, and the speed to access, download, and connect couldn’t get any faster. The same is true for timeliness of customer service and engagement. 71% of visitors expect to be able to access help within five minutes when making a purchase online (81% in the US), while 31% expect this help to be immediate. If they couldn’t get help within their expected time frame, 48% state they would go elsewhere or abandon the purchase altogether.
The need for speed is also influencing how consumers want to connect with brands. 51% stated that they were more likely to purchase from a website if they could get answers via live chat, and globally, 48% of consumers indicated that they are more likely to return to a website if live help is available. Overall, 93% of consumers consider real-time help as being beneficial during their online customer journey.
The increasing usage of mobile devices, apps, and social platforms, are influencing expectations for a multi-channel experience from our favorite brands. It seems that a toll-free number is no longer sufficient. 59% of global consumers would like to have more choice in how they contact online brands, with a strong interest in real-time channels such as live chat (57%) and click-to-call (34%), and now an emerging interest in more innovative solutions such as video demos (12%) and live video chat (7%) with an agent to get help.
With the influence of social media, how we use the Internet has changed from “self-service” and information-seeking to connecting with other humans, asking one another questions, seeking personal recommendations, etc. Today, 83% of consumers want some sort of support in their online journey, but again, they want the experience to be effortless, and fast. Half of online shoppers (51%) will either try once or give up immediately when seeking help before an online purchase.
Consumers have set the bar high. But by “listening” to what today’s consumers want, you can better optimize your online strategy, and better inform your investment decisions on the latest tools and technologies that will help you meet, and even exceed the expectations of your customers.
Want to learn more? See how consumer trends vary country by country, how satisfaction rates compare between customer service channels, and even more interesting consumer expectation statistics in the full Connecting with Customers Report.
The Connecting with Customers Report was commissioned by LivePerson and created by independent research consultants, Loudhouse. The survey was comprised of more than 5,710 online shoppers who had either researched or bought products, or accessed customer services, from a range of different websites. Consumers were surveyed from 6 different countries: USA (2012), UK (1126), Australia (1002), France (538), Italy (530) and Germany (502).