Firms may be spending heavily on advertising their websites, but they are neglecting online customer support, a new report has claimed.
The fifth Hewson/eGain UK online services report shows that of websites promoted in national print or TV media, just one in 20 offer a level of online service likely to result in a sale.
Indeed, some 9 per cent failed to respond to sales enquiries at all.
Analyst Hewson, a specialist in customer relationship management (CRM), tracks how well companies are serving their customers, from the initial web experience through to delivery of requested information via email and execution of brochure requests.
The report states: "Getting online service right is not philanthropy but a hard-nosed business imperative with a high payback... The impact of poor service is lost sales and damage to both online and offline brands.
"Here in the UK, the evidence is that companies are still greatly under-performing, with only 1 in 20 offering a level of online service likely to result in a sale."
Of the 140 websites surveyed, all had been promoted in the national media. They covered the Business Travel, Computers, Business Schools, Mobile Phones, Adult Entertainment, Personal Finance, Home Furnishings, Branded Clothes and Car sectors.
Some 37 per cent did not offer either a search function or answers to frequently asked questions.
Moreover, even when they did, a whopping 81 per cent of sites failed to resolve the answers to those questions typically asked by a serious, high-value purchaser.
Three in ten websites provided no way of answering questions via email, and of those questioned, 21 per cent made no attempt to respond, more than the 19 per cent that provided a full answer within 24 hours.
Just over half the responses were personalised and well presented, the report found.
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