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New Simplr Study: ecommerce Brands are Unprepared for Holiday Surge in Customer Service Inquiries

Many ecommerce brands are struggling to meet the service and support needs of their customers, foreshadowing a potentially tumultuous 2021 holiday season, finds a new report from Simplr. An in-depth study of support and service interactions across 1,483 ecommerce company websites, “The State of Ecommerce Customer Service 2021,” finds that only 40% of ecommerce brands have live chat available, and 21% do not offer readily available email support.

Of the brands that do offer chat, the study found that the chat interaction was unable to resolve the issue at hand 49% of the time. Additionally, 42% of brands were unable to respond to email support inquiries in less than 24 hours. According to Zendesk, customers who have to wait more than 24 hours for a response are 50% more likely to abandon the correspondence.

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“Today’s NOW customer expects effective, personalized, and most importantly prompt responses to their inquiries. Every single time. If ecommerce brands are unable to meet those expectations in August and September, what does that mean for November and December, especially as companies struggle to staff?” said Daniel Rodriguez, Simplr CMO. “This study should act as a warning to ecommerce leaders: Make rapid improvements to your CX programs now, or lose customers in the very near future.”

Human intervention key to support success

While chatbots can be an effective first line of interaction with customers, the study also found that human intervention was key to successfully resolving chat support inquiries: Of the unresolved chats, 92% offered no human intervention.

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The influence of human chat intervention on revenue and customer loyalty is significant: 91% of consumers said that they are “not at all likely” or “not likely” to repurchase from a brand that could not resolve their chat inquiry. Meanwhile, consumers said they are 93% more likely to repurchase from a brand after an interaction with a human agent.

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“With their ability to quickly answer basic inquiries, chatbots are effective at deflecting volume and meeting basic customer needs. But the moment that complexity or customer empathy is required, brands need to have a seamless escalation process to humans in place,” said Rodriguez. “Particularly during the chaotic holiday season, consumers will have little patience for a bot that continues to not answer their question.”

The difference between “exceptional” and “poor” CX comes down to first response time

The study found that average first response times in “exceptional” chat interactions was 19 seconds, compared to 47 seconds for “poor” interactions. This 28 second difference had a profound impact on the customer’s overall experience: Exceptional interactions resulted in an average customer effort score of 99.4% and a 98.5% average likelihood to repurchase. Poor interactions resulted in an average customer effort score of 24.6% and 29% average likelihood to repurchase.

“Your first response time is your chance to make a first impression with a customer,” said Rodriguez. “By responding quickly and taking the time to show you care, you develop real rapport with the customer. This study proves that the impression is not lost on the customer. The best brands understand this and use it to their advantage when it comes to leveraging CX as a true customer loyalty and revenue driver.”

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[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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