Many merchants are still failing to provide users with adequate customer service on their ecommerce Web sites and the problem is only likely to get worse.
Jupiter Communications tested 125 sites that offered consumer brand products, travel, retail and financial services, and revealed that 46 per cent of suppliers either failed to respond to emails requesting help or took five or more days to act upon it.
This figure had risen seven per cent on the previous year and some sites did not even have an email address for customers to post their enquiries to.
Cormac Foster, a Jupiter analyst, said: "Despite Web ventures' claims last year that they were going to focus on customer services as a primary investment and implement major advances in automated assistance packages, the state of online customer service continues to decline."
He continued: "Many are ignoring the opportunity to communicate with existing and potential customers, discouraging brand loyalty, and opting out of a user initiated, one to one relationship by delaying, eliminating or not offering responses to email."
He added that many ecommerce sites were victims of their own success and their systems were not up to handling the volume of traffic they had to deal with. This put a strain on customer service as a result.
In separate research, Jupiter estimated that many ecommerce sites were experiencing an average of 58,000 transactions per day.
Possible vertical market solutions to the problem included retail sites offering live chat and possibly phone services to qualified users who intend to make a purchase.
Content sites, on the other hand, could complement search and email segments with well maintained frequently asked questions sections.
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