Are SMEs missing a trick when it comes to online queries?

UK businesses are leaving more than half of online queries unanswered, a new study has revealed, which could be have a detrimental effect on sales.


The Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study revealed that the use of Twitter as a customer service tool is increasing – more queries are now answered via this means than via email.


However, companies fail to respond to 59% of tweets and 61% of emails meaning many issues are unresolved.


As part of the research, 100 UK companies were tested on their ability to answer ten routine questions via the web, with the accuracy and speed of response taken into account.


Queries answered via company websites were considerably higher than other channels, yet more than a third of questions still went unanswered.


Improved response times


Response times have improved, as the study found the average email query was responded to in 29 hours and 27 minutes – more than half of the time taken a year ago.


However, great variation between retailers was noted, as one successfully answered a question in nine minutes while another tool more than 30 days.


Twitter provided the fastest responses, with the average response time taking less than five and a half hours, although two retailers took just two minutes to respond.


Quicker responses often failed to answer the queries though or required follow up communications, so speed was not always of the essence.


Meeting customer demands


As customers get more demanding in what expect from businesses, the service they receive will increase in importance.


A key factor for many businesses will be to ensure that they do not lose out on sales or experience legal issues as a result of poor customer service.


Investment into social media channels and websites could aid sales and help brands to build good reputations while a lack of action could cause issues.


In severe situations where cash flows are impacted, considering business turnaround could be an option to streamline a firm and mitigate any negative impacts.


Good customer service could help to alleviate problems at their cause but firms should look to ensure that their approach is consistent across all channels – from emails and websites to social media accounts.


By Phil Smith


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