Analysts expect increase in online sales for holidays, but email customer support lags

According to a new report customer service is no longer a nice-to-have, but essential for companies who want to attract and retain customers. Yet two-in-three customers have scrapped a planned purchase based on poor customer service. So what are companies doing wrong?
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

The dominance of e-commerce on our shopping behavior is on the rise. It is expected that, by 2040, 95% of all purchases will be through e-commerce. To effectively compete and create a loyal customer base, e-commerce companies need to prioritize how they deliver customer support.

Holiday shoppers should expect quality support if they have a question, issue, or special request – yet a new report shows that many e-commerce companies are failing in this area.

San Mateo, CA-based AI customer service platform Netomi's latest State of Customer Service benchmark report for 2020 asked 2000 e-commerce companies around the world about their customer support experience for their customers on their preferred channel: E-mail.

Its study showed that e-commerce companies need to greatly improve their email support experience, providing quicker responses with higher-quality answers and empowering their human agents to be empathic.

Today email remains the preferred digital channel for support. Yet only 59% of eCommerce companies offer support on email, and of those with support email addresses, 30% ignore customer emails altogether.

The eCommerce companies that prioritize email are responding quickly: One in two companies respond to customer inquiries in the first 6 hours and 75% respond within 24 hours. The average response time is 17.3 hours.

Netomi used two measurements to calculate its scores: the Support Performance Index (SPI) and Answer Quality Index (AQI). SPI is a 100-point scale measured by personalization (10 points), empathy (20 points), relevance (20 points), and resolution time (50 points).

Companies can earn up to 10 bonus points if a company sends a CSAT survey, or waives the shipping fee for the customer struggling financially. AQI measures the usefulness of the response.

Analysts expect increase in online sales this holiday season– yet email customer support still lags zdnet

The best enterprise companies had an SPI score over 80 with H&M leading the field. Adidas only scored 15.5 on its SPI score.

Luxury Goods companies outperform other industries and consumer electronics companies provide the worst support.

The best email support from large US-based eCommerce companies comes from Williams-Sonoma, H&M, Payless, Aeropostale, and Eddie Bauer. The worst comes from Macy's. E-commerce companies in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region are first in customer service quality.

To effectively compete and create a loyal customer base, e-commerce companies need to prioritize their customer support.

Customers demand effortless, convenient experiences on their channels of choice: Email.

Email needs to be offered as a choice for consumers to contact brands. Furthermore, companies should never ignore an email under any circumstances, if they want to remain successful online

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