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What’s “great service” online?

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Sunday April 25, 2010 )

People are still watching their dollars, but that doesn’t mean to say they won’t pay more for great service.

According to a recent Ovum survey commissioned by STELLAService, the value of great online customer service in the USA in 2010 is a whopping USD $17.3 billion.

The survey of 304 consumers found that Americans are willing to spend approximately 9.7% more for great customer service on average, but consumers in the online retail category are willing to pay 10.7% for the peace of mind that they will be taken care of in the case of a question or problem.

The figures were calculated based on average spend per person per year with each type of company. For the online retail category, the leading factor of great customer service is speed of delivery, but helpfulness of customer service representatives and easy access to information on a company’s web site also featured prominently as important elements of customer service for Internet retailers.

Just on a side-note – potential customers in an online environment will often send through a “test” question before purchasing; one they may already well know the answer to. They may be ready to buy at that point, but wanting to see how fast a response they will get as an indication of what the general service of the merchant might be like. The faster a merchant responds, the more likely they will purchase – even if it takes them a couple of days to get around to it once receiving a response.

Speed isn’t the only factor though – it’s quality. I’ve had some merchant replies that look like teenage SMS/IM textspeak – and that does nothing to instill consumer confidence – unless you’re marketing to hip ‘n funky teenagers I guess :).


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