Despite significant investment in digital channels, UK retailers are still only answering just over half (55%) of routine customer questions asked via the email, Twitter and web channels, new research shows.
According to the 2015 Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study, email performance has worsened considerably in retail since 2014, both in accuracy and speed of response, while Twitter has improved dramatically over the last 12 months.
The average time taken to answer questions sent by email has increased by over 8 hours to 43 hours 52 minutes between 2014 and 2015, while the percentage of retailers successfully answering a query sent via email dropped from 63% to 58%.
In contrast, tweets were answered in an average of 4 hours 5 minutes, over twice as fast as 2014 when the average response time was 13 hours 10 minutes.
Only 43% of tweets received a successful reply, although this was 10% higher than 2014. The web remains the strongest channel for customer service in retail, with 65% of answers to queries being found on company websites.
“With ecommerce sales breaking the £100 billion mark in 2014, digital channels are now central to the success of retailers, whatever sector they are in,” said Julian Sammells, sales director UK and Ireland at Eptica.
“Unfortunately the 2015 Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study found that there has been little improvement in how retailers are performing compared to 2014, with a major drop in email speed and wider gaps between best and worst. Retailers need to evaluate how they are performing for digital customer service and invest accordingly to ensure they are ready for the future demands of Christmas 2015.”
Retailer performance on email demonstrated that too many suffer from inadequate resources or broken processes.
98% provided consumers with the ability to email them but then under three quarters (73%) answered messages sent to them. 15% provided a response that didn’t answer the question, meaning that only 58% of queries were successfully responded to.
While it saw improvements, Twitter also suffered from gaps between what was offered and actual performance.
88% of retailers were on the social network yet only 43% successfully responded to a tweet. 45% simply did not answer, suggesting that insufficient resources have been put in place to cope with the growing demands of the channel.