Survey criticises Net service levels

Christmas could be a boon to e-retailers -- but service might be the stumbling block

Bad service levels offered by online retailers will keep shoppers off the Net this Christmas, according to a survey released Monday.

The study -- conducted by US Internet firm ServiceSoft -- found that only eight percent of the 836 respondents were happy with email replies to enquiries, with most complaining about irrelevant or auto-reply responses. Sixty-five percent of users complained they did not receive any response at all to emails and 87 percent claimed they would abandon a merchant's Web site and click on a competitor if they experience poor customer services.

CEO of Servicesoft Chris Butler believes the results threaten e-Christmas sales. "The huge potential this holiday season marks merchants' big chance to prove themselves in providing customers the support they expect and deserve," he said. "Until merchants make their sites smarter in delivering e-mail and other support, frustrated consumers will take their holiday shopping dollars to the competition."

Founder of online software retailer, David Prais believes many companies transferring to the Net are not taking service seriously enough. "Customer service is sacrosanct. It is so simple. Without customers there is no business. There is no point investing thousands of pounds attracting customers to your site only to drive them away by shoddy service," he said.

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