August 30, 2002
eCommerce 101: It's more than a pretty website!

Kalsey pointed me to this article in BusinessWeek online: E-Commerce: It's All About the Experience:

the more I buy over the Web, the more I realize that what really sets the e-commerce sites I love apart has little to do with technology. Instead, it boils down to people -- specifically, customer service and support. In this regard, the Web is no different from conventional stores and catalogs. Some treat their clients well, others don't. Over time, buyers tend to stick with the former and turn their backs on the latter.

As basic as it seems, many online businesses haven't mastered this lesson yet. They get caught up in cool technology tricks or the novelty of their business model. Or they think that offering lower prices or bigger selection is enough to keep customers coming back, even if the ultimate purchasing process is marred by problems with deliveries or returns.

However, the Web offers no magic that justifies shoddy service. Customers have to enjoy their relationship with a business or they won't develop loyalty. And without a steady stream of repeat customers, Web outfits can't ever hope to be profitable.

So true. The article goes on to praise Amazon - rightfully. I have mostly good experiences with them...

On the same topic, same day, James alerted me to some recent research from Jupiter on email in customer service:

If you're looking for a quick response to a customer service question, don't count on e- mail, according to a new study. Only a third of the companies surveyed by Jupiter Research bothered to immediately acknowledge they had gotten customers' e-mail in the first place, sending an automatic response. Most of the companies did eventually respond to consumers, but don't hold your breath; only 52 percent got back within 24 hours, while 32 percent took three days or longer.

(CNet Tech News: Email makes for customer non-service)

3 days or longer? Sorry, mate, my s has just gone elsewhere...

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