Online shops “crap at customer service” shocker

From the “confirming what we already know” department comes a press release from Fasthosts:

A staggering 78 per cent of British consumers have been disappointed by a slow response to a customer service email enquiry, with the average consumer sending three emails before receiving a satisfactory response, according to research released today by Fasthosts Internet Ltd…

More than 30 per cent of consumers surveyed said they regularly wait three days for a reply, while nine per cent have waited up to a week and even two per cent reported it can regularly take up to a month.  Interestingly, men are statistically more likely to receive a quicker response (21 per cent regularly receiving a reply within six to 12 hours).

The average consumer (51 per cent of the survey group) sends three emails before receiving a satisfactory reply to their enquiry, while 33 per cent say they have sent up to 10 emails about a single enquiry.  Of the latter group, men seem to be the most persistent sex, with 5 per cent more men than women sending up to ten emails; while women are more likely to abandon emails in favour of telephoning the company.





0 responses to “Online shops “crap at customer service” shocker”

  1. Customer service is a major bugbear of mine. We’re continually told that capitalism is ‘efficient’ and that ‘the customer is always right’, and everything from transport to the dole is now run on a ‘customer’ model. Yet, in this era of customer-focused ‘efficiency’, companies are still consistently shite at doing what they’re supposed to do, and still treat their customers like morons. Web-based companies are the worst of all. When I buy stuff online, something approaching 1 in every 3 transactions is problematic.

  2. Looking at those figures concerns me for the poor bugger at the other end of the scale from me. With the exception of one dodgy eBay transaction (which eBay/PayPal sorted quickly and to my satisfaction) I’ve never had any problems with online purchases.

    Now, HBoS…

  3. I’ve only ever had one problem with online shopping, but the customer service was fine (it was to do with a CD shipping late). I’m only ever shopping online every so often anyhoo.

    Is there any e-commerce sites that incorporate some sort of live help, AJAX or flash most likely. In fact, with Flash they could run an audio version, then the shopper is free to roam the site and do what else they need to do, while talking to customer service. Maybe it’s a bit too much, but I was just wondering!

  4. Gary

    I did a column about this at the tail end of last year. I don’t think it’s online, so here’s an excerpt…


    My digital camera packed up the other week, so I decided to buy a new one. Site after site after site promised bargains but didn’t have the camera in stock, but eventually I found what I was looking for: a site that had the camera for a decent price and with next day delivery. I checked the list of out of stock items, and the camera I wanted wasn’t in it. Result! Because I needed the camera in a hurry I grumbled at the £13 postage charge, but paid it anyway.
    Two days passed. No camera. I tried the firm’s online, real-time customer service chat system. Nobody home. I tried phoning. My call was important, a voice explained, but not so important that anyone was going to answer. I emailed. No reply.
    The following day, I tried again. After a few hours of calling, swearing and redialling, I finally got through. Where’s my camera? “Can you hang on a minute? DAVE? DAVE? DAAAAAVE! ‘AVE WE GOT THE CASIOS IN YET? YEAH! CASIOS! Hello, Mr Marshall? We won’t get them until next Monday, so the camera will be with you on Tuesday.” I cancelled the order.
    The firm’s site was impressive, but like too many online shops it lost interest as soon as you placed an order. Yes, there was a stock list, live help system, order status page, phone helpline and customer service staff, but they were – in order – out of date, unattended, inaccurate, overloaded and incompetent.

  5. Gary

    Yet, in this era of customer-focused ‘efficiency’, companies are still consistently shite at doing what they’re supposed to do, and still treat their customers like morons.

    It’s because we accept it, and because we aren’t sure of our consumer rights. So the bad service firms stay in business.

  6. I’m with Tony and Mike: I find online service to be consistently excellent. I buy everything online these days.

  7. > everything from transport to the dole is now run on a ‘customer’ model.

    As a rule, politicians can’t tell the difference between introducing competition and outsourcing a monopoly. The people who claim to be making these things more customer-focused don’t actually know what “customer-focused” means.

  8. mupwangle

    I bet you that all the online shops are still better than ISPs.

  9. Come to think of it, though, Vic’s having a bad experience with some Web-based eejits just now. Maybe I’m just lucky.