Study: E-customers Are Mostly Dissatisfied

FRAMINGHAM (03/17/2000) - A survey of nearly 10,000 online customers found that only 36 percent are satisfied with their electronic interactions and that more than half of those transactions require a phone call or other off-line action to resolve issues they face, according to a report released today.

The study -- conducted by on behalf of the International Customer Service Association -- also found that online customers generally have higher expectations for customer service than what they end up receiving.

In the study, customers of 16 businesses who had electronic interactions with those firms were surveyed on a variety of issues related to their experience.

Of the 50,000 customers contacted, 9,500 responded.

Among the other key findings are:

-- E-customers expect acknowledgement of their contact within an hour, but only 42 percent receive confirmations within 24 hours.

-- Nearly 40 percent of customers never get a final response to their e-contact.

-- Poor handling of e-contacts creates 30 to 48 percent lower customer loyalty, particularly through online chat rooms.

-- Nine out of 10 companies don't measure e-customer service satisfaction.

The study's findings are on target, said analyst Conrad Hanf, of Dedham, Massachusetts-based ARC Advisory Group Inc.

"I don't know how many times I've had to call after e-mailing a company," he said. "I think people who use this technology expect it to work, and if it doesn't, it's frustrating."

The study shows that businesses on the Web have a lot of work to do to satisfy their online customers, Hanf said.

Among the businesses whose customers were surveyed: American Express Co., IBM, Procter & Gamble Co., Nextel Communications and Toyota Motor Sales.

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